Behind the Scenes at the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature has entertained and educated everyone from children to adults in the Bradenton Area for more than 70 years. Whether it’s a name change or a new exhibit, this is one museum that isn’t stuck in the past.Renowned for its state-of-the-art planetarium, the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat, and of course the science and nature museum, The Bishop features permanent and temporary exhibits and shows covering everything from Paleo-Indian, archaic, and pre-contact cultures to space exploration and the solar system.
New Exhibits Attract a New Generation
However, it’s The Bishop’s newest exhibit that’s really out of this world. Opening in 2019, the Mosaic Backyard Universe is an interactive playground where children can learn about science and nature while letting their imaginations blast off. Why the name? Well, “Backyard,” because the exhibit is designed to look like a typical backyard setting. For many children, their backyards or nearby outdoor play areas will serve as their first introduction to nature, and spark their interest in understanding the science behind it all. There’s even a 30-foot-tall, man-made “mighty oak tree” (with treehouse) that serves as a centerpiece for the exhibit, and is a scientifically accurate southern live oak tree that will educate children on different plants and wildlife. Second, “Universe,” because of a huge model of our solar system hanging from the ceiling, and a “cardboard rocket” big enough for kids to get inside and explore. This is only the beginning to this monumental exhibit.
The Mosaic Backyard Universe is the result of years of work and countless hours of designing and building. It’s unlike most any other exhibit designed for young minds. That’s because The Bishop wanted to change one of the most common approaches to educating children. The team behind the Mosaic Backyard Universe noticed that many children’s exhibits are “grown-up settings” made in “kid sizes,” such as miniature grocery stores or fire stations. Additionally, these exhibits are usually single-purpose, meaning they only teach one subject.
The Bishop wanted to make a space that not only resonated more with children, but was also multi-purpose; teaching lessons on science and nature. A place where kids could be kids. Where they would be educated through “inquiry-based learning” instead of being told what to learn.
“Inquiry-based learning means giving children the freedom to learn through curiosity, exploration, and leading questions. The learning is not prescribed here,” said Remi Gonzalez, the museum’s director of communications. “The staff in the exhibit offers a great balance of inquiry-based learning and facilitated learning. Our team members will be ‘facilitators’ not ‘lecturers.’”
New Name. Same Commitment to Education.
For decades, visitors and locals alike knew The Bishop as the South Florida Museum. However, after an extensive period of research, it was determined this name no longer suited the museum. Bradenton was no longer known as part of South Florida as it was the 70 or so years ago when the museum was named. Additionally, the museum wanted to differentiate itself from other institutions. Therefore, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature was established as the new name, or The Bishop for short.