One of the foremost museum experiences in Tampa, Florida, area has long been the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI). I’ve grown up visiting MOSI and continue to enjoy visiting this award-winning science center as an adult.
Offering dozens of hands-on opportunities to engage in the scientific wonders that make up the world around us, MOSI is the largest science museum in the Southeast United States. MOSI offers an IMAX dome movie theater, planetarium, nature trail, butterfly habitat, and hurricane wind simulator, among dozens of other highlights.
One of the most popular exhibits is Kids in Charge! — a wing of the museum dedicated to teaching children about the science principles of the world around us with fun, engaging props and games. Throughout the year, MOSI also hosts several events, including Einstein on Food and Wine, and the Festival of Chocolate.
The History of MOSI in Tampa
MOSI dates back to 1962, when Hillsborough County approved funds for a youth museum in Sulphur Springs on the banks of the Hillsborough River. The small museum was originally named the Museum of Science and Natural History, and in 1967 became the Hillsborough County Museum. By 1972, the museum had its first professional director.
In 1976, the museum acquired its current site and in the late 1970s hired core professional staff to guide the new museum. In 1980, the facility was completed in it was opened to the public in 1982. By the late 1980s, more land was acquired to accommodate a multi-phase growth plan that includes the iconic IMAX dome structure and the Kids in Charge! wing to the west of the main exhibit area.
MOSI is a fully established museum with many credentials, including accreditation from the American Association of Museums and the Association of Science-Technology Centers.
Spending a Day at MOSI in Tampa
A trip to MOSI means planning on at least a half day of non-stop seeing, doing, and exploring. If you go during a busy time of the year, such as the summer, I’d simply allocate an entire day at the museum. I suggest arriving early and check out what is showing at the IMAX theater, which usually plays documentaries geared toward science as well as some popular films.
Sometimes the event floor has a feature exhibit or expo. Right now, 3D Printing the Future is going on, and this free event takes visitors through the amazing world of printing three-dimensional objects ranging from fashion accessories to body parts. You can even play with 3D concepts in the workshop area.
It’s easy to spend an hour or two at the main exhibition hall, and if you’ve got children in tow you’ll probably spend the same amount of time — or more — at Kids in Charge! I personally enjoy presentations at the Saunders Planetarium and riding the high-wire bike that is carefully balanced with a counterweight. Oh — that bike takes you 30 feet over the main lobby floor, so don’t look down!
There’s also a zip line and ropes course, which I’ve not had the chance to partake in yet but have heard is something I must do when I get the opportunity. The multi-level ropes course takes brave souls almost four stories above the ground, and the zip line takes thrill seekers 65 feet up along a total of 700 feet of cable.
Be sure to stop by the BioWorks butterfly garden. You could make hundreds of fluttering friends! On the way out, you might want to take a little trek through the historic tree grove, which flourishes with more than a dozen trees grown from seedlings of trees associated with significant people or events. For example, there’s a sweet gum that’s the seedling of a tree that witnessed the flight of the first airplane. I’m not sure what is more relaxing — time in the BioWorks butterfly garden or a leisurely stroll through the tree grove.
Where is MOSI in Tampa?
MOSI is in North Tampa at 4801 E. Fowler, so it’s right across from the USF Sun Dome and about 1.5 northeast of Busch Gardens, about halfway between I-75 and I-275.
MOSI is open Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 5 PM and Saturday and Sunday 10 AM through 6 PM.
General admission for adults is $22.95 and for kids 6-12 tickets are $18.95. MOSI also participates in CityPASS, the unique combo ticket that gets you into MOSI and other attractions in the area (including Busch Gardens) for a discounted price. Parking is $5.