MOSI plans relocation to downtown Tampa

- After a feasibility study showed promise, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) board approved next steps toward planning a move to downtown Tampa.

The board said those next steps would include strategic planning, community discussion and specialized staff to design and fundraise for a new science center.

The move forward follows the board's review of a feasibility study that it said projects promising attendance and finances in a new location.

“Attendance increases of up to 34-percent and being able to draw from a wider variety of people, from adults to tourists. We would truly be a lifelong learning institution,” said Molly Demeulenaere, President and CEO of MOSI.

MOSI officials said they have received support from leaders in Hillsborough County as well as Strategic Property Partners, the group redeveloping the area around Amalie Arena.

The move has some parents, who are regulars at the current site across from the University of South Florida, concerned about the distance driving to a new location in bustling downtown district.

“That would be rough for us,” said Penny Kienast, who frequents the museum nearly once a week from Wesley Chapel with her two homeschooled sons. “It makes it harder to find parking, and it just makes for a longer day. We do the Children’s Museum down there and do different things, but I don’t think [MOSI] would be a regular activity that we do now.”

MOSI Board Chair Mike Schultz, President and CEO of Florida Hospital's West Florida Region, will lead a task force of community partners tasked with moving the project forward. Officials said they plan to collect input from the general public to learn what their visitors would like to see at the new museum.

In a release to the media Tuesday, MOSI said it will:

-Launch a strategic planning process to chart the future of MOSI as a reinvented, vibrant, future-focused science center.
- Lead community conversations to discover what the people of Tampa Bay want from their new, innovative institution.
- Engage a specialized team of professionals to begin the design, planning, and fundraising for a world-class science center.

Planning for the project is expected to take up to a year. The task force has been asked to identify features, exhibits and programs to be offered in the new science center.

The exact location and size, as well as the costs and funding sources involved, have yet to be determined. MOSI officials said they are considering a location in the Channelside District.

“Downtown is really going through a reinvention, so this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our institution to be involved in that rebirth,” said Demeulenaere.

More information is posted at http://mosi.org/.

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