Mike and I have visited our share of museums. We love visiting new and interesting cultural attractions in each new city we visit. Unfortunately, Tampa’s MOSI was a bit of a disappointment due to the lack of adult oriented exhibits. However, MOSI is the largest science center in the Southeastern US, so your choices are a bit limited.
Many of the exhibits are hands on and unfortunately quite worn down. Disasterville offers the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be in a variety of severe weather situations such as a hurricane, wildfire, tornado. or earthquake. Although this would have been an interesting concept, the technology is just not there. For example,in the tornado room, you just watch a simulated tornado from a TV screen.
Having items fly around the room and strong winds, similar to a ride at Universal Studios, would have been a more interesting and realistic experience. I understand this is a non profit organization, however, the exhibits need to be updated based on the prices they are charging for admission.
You will find a few interesting tornado exhibits
Pictured below is the largest hailstone, found in Coffeyville, Kansas in 1970. It’s 5.67 inches with a weight of 1.67 pounds. Imagine being caught in that storm!
A number of interactive features are located in the Amazing You exhibit of the museum. These educational exhibits are great for kids, unfortunately boring for educated adults. Also many are worn down from years of use and a handful did not work at all. Here are some of the interactive exhibits you will find: eye perception tests, stress tests, drunk driving simulations, eye charts, and more.
Exhibits are geared towards learning about the human body and different diseases. You will be able to explore each stage of life and the different lifestyle habits you can incorporate to be healthy at each age. Some of the games and tests like the How Long Will you Live Quiz can easily be found online, so I’m not sure why they are at the museum. There is an interesting health version of the old Hollywood Squares game show, unfortunately, the museum was too packed for us to test it out.
The most interesting exhibit at the museum is the 3D Printing the Future Exhibit where you can witness the extraordinary power of 3D printers. As you browse around the display cases, you can take a look at all the interesting objects made by these printers, including medical devices.
Both an IMAX and planetarium show are included with your admission. The planetarium show is actually pretty educational and entertaining at the same time. I was hoping for some space related exhibits, however, nothing outside of the show is offered at MOSI.
You have your choice amongst several IMAX shows, including: Dinosaurs Alive!, Hidden Universe, Great White Shark, Island of Lemurs Madagascar, and Pandas: The Journey Home. The Great White Shark show was pretty entertaining, although I am not a fan of the dome style theater as you tend to get a headache from looking up for 40 minutes straight.
They also show a selection of full length feature films throughout the year (additional fee). Right now they are playing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. MOSI is home to the only IMAX dome theater in Florida. The projector is the most advanced ever built. With 10,000+ square foot of screen space, you can’t even imagine how big it is until you witness it in person.
The high wire bike attraction allows you to ride a bike 30 feet in the air with no chance of falling down, as the bike is balanced on a 1 inch steel cable. At 98 feet long, the bike is the longest in a US museum.
Weatherquest allows you to sit at a real news center desk and test out your broadcasting skills. You will be able to watch yourself on the screen as if you are a real newscaster. This could have been an interesting exhibit, unfortunately all of the computers were down during our visit.
Nikon’s Small World is an interesting exhibit which allows you to look at microscopic scientific photography. A photomicrograph is the technical name for these beautiful pieces of art. As you browse the hall, you can view the photos which won this year’s competition.
The 2 Sauropods in the lobby of the museum are a grand sight – over 150 feet in combined length and 3 stories tall. MOSI is one of few museums to have these dinosaurs on display.
Kids in Charge! is the largest children’s science center. This area includes numerous interactive exhibits that are sure to entertain kids for hours.
A ropes course and zip line are offered for an extra fee. The zip line attraction is very popular, so much in fact that the museum now offers annual memberships.
A museum cafe is available on the first floor. If you prefer to dine outside the museum, there are plenty of other choices in the area. I recommend taking a 15 minute drive over to the Hard Rock Hotel. There are numerous dining options available, including an excellent buffet called Fresh Harvest.
Overall, MOSI is probably interesting enough for families with young kids to visit. In my opinion, it is not the place for older adults, teenagers, and couples. Although there is plenty of educational material, most of it is common knowledge and the exhibits are severely outdated. The museum needs a major remodel including enhanced technology.
If you are coming mainly for the IMAX film, you might as well just pay for the IMAX and skip the museum (you will save yourself over 10 bucks and get free parking).
Address, Parking, Hours & Pricing Info
MOSI is located at: 4801 E. Fowler Avenue – Tampa, Florida 33617
Parking is $5 per vehicle
Hours: 9am-5pm Monday-Friday (open until 6pm on weekends)
Prices: Adults are $23, Seniors are $21 (60+), and kids are $19 (ages 6-12)