It’s fitting that the first exhibit you see when you walk into Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History is a giant, gaping human mouth, because visitors’ mouths will often be dropping open in the same way as they make new discoveries throughout this fabulous museum.
The MOSH fascinates every age group, from the preschoolers who come for the museum’s monthly $5 Pre-K Day to the grown-ups who frequent its rooftop special events. Beyond its special affairs, though, the museum offers a regular variety of exhibits that will pique any child’s interests.
Kids can look eyeball-to-eyeball at live wild animals like owls, alligators and tortoises; explore the features of a life-size replica of a right whale; even see real human organs — if they dare look at the bottled displays. There’s a planetarium that features a variety of shows, which change on a regular basis. The MOSH also has a fascinating section dedicated to the history of Florida and of Jacksonville, in particular.
We first took our little guy when he was a year-and-a-half old, and even at that age, he was wide-eyed and excited about all he saw. On a more recent trip, he was ready to grab every interactive lever and handle, and to push every button. He listened to the sounds of various creatures from the ocean. He played in the cool, indoor “tree house” playground. And, outside, he and I searched in vain for Tonca, the 46-year-old turtle, who was said to be somewhere in the water below the bridge we were standing on. Only later did we discover he had been just a couple feet from us all the time, the moss on his shell completely camouflaging him from our view while he rested underwater.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum continually offers special exhibits, so every time you visit there’s something new to see. I love that this is a place that truly caters to kids. In fact, its roots are completely about children. The museum was originally chartered in 1941 as The Jacksonville Children’s Museum. More than 30 years later, it changed names, but it remains a museum that embraces the youngest of curious explorers.
If you want to go:
Where: 1025 Museum Circle Drive, Jacksonville, FL
Contact: Call 904.396.MOSH (6674)
For hours, rates and more, visit the MOSH website at: themosh.org