The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science is an educational museum established in 1977. Featuring living animals, ecoscapes, multimedia learning tools, and simulation rides, the museum's mission is to encourage an appreciation of science in school-aged children, as well as adults. Situated in the downtown area of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the museum offers hundreds of attractions and interactive exhibits to bring science to life and encourage lifelong learning. Traveling exhibits, evolving environmental displays, and examples of futuristic technology seek to engage both youths and adults.
Originally, the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science was known simply as the Discovery Center. Housed in an historic inn, the concept was initiated by the Junior League of Fort Lauderdale and soon enjoyed yearly visitor counts that could no longer support the small museum campus. In November 1992, the new Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science opened at its current location. With the help of funding from the City of Fort Lauderdale's General Obligation Bond, as well as monies raised through philanthropic endowments, private contributions, and public support, the current museum opened debt-free with a permanent endowment to aid in future funding needs. Additional monies required for needed expansions, maintenance, repairs, outreach programs, and educational initiatives are raised through charity events, campaigns, and other philanthropic efforts.
Classified as a private, non-profit museum, the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science encompasses 85,000 square feet (7,896.76 m2). Accreditation awards include the American Association of Museums, as well as the Association of Science-Technology Centers. Between the years 1992 and 2011, the museum hosted over 7 million guests and students from the state of Florida and abroad. Efforts to keep the museum viable and relevant include an expansion project initiated in 2010 to add 35,000 square feet (3,251.61 m2) of exhibition space, doubling the previous available space.
Children attending the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science are exposed to a variety of science themes — including space exploration and ecology — through exhibits, films, camps, and special events. Many features of the museum are tailored to specific age groups to make learning more age-appropriate. Classes, day camps, camp-ins, laboratories, education programs, and scientific demonstrations are typically divided into groups for children under seven years of age, children seven to twelve years of age, and high school students. Additional exhibits and events are tailored specifically for adults and museum members. To compliment ongoing and traveling exhibits and events, the museum also participates in community outreach programs designed to target at-risk or under-privileged youths.