The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium has a vibrant past, full of growth, expansion and service to the community. Since its 1959 founding by the Junior League of the Palm Beaches, the Center has served more than five million visitors. Originally known as the South Florida Science Museum, doors opened in 1961, offering exhibits focusing on nature and natural history. The Museum grew rapidly, opening a planetarium in 1964 dedicated by and named for astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
From there, growth continued, doubling in size by 1971. The Center’s evolution continued through the 1980s, with a substantial renovation of the theater and planetarium. 2012 saw more renovation, after $6 million in funds were raised for the construction of a 6,000 square foot aquarium space, which includes Aquariums of the Atlantic and River of Grass, the Center’s Everglade Exhibit. This interactive space also includes a NOAA Science on a Sphere exhibit and a student showcase for local science fair projects from the Palm Beach School District.
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The name was changed at this time to incorporate the new features, becoming the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium. With a subsequent renovation of Discovery Hall, the continuously improving and evolving Center now provides an upgraded theater and new science laboratory which cultivate interest in the sciences.
The Aquarium at the South Florida Science Center is comprised of two main areas. Half the space is dedicated to the Aquariums of the Atlantic gallery and the other half to the River of Grass Everglades Exhibit, which is dedicated to exploration of these special ecosystems in Florida. The exceptional exhibits on display include specific highlights from the Atlantic, including native Florida sea life such as eels, sharks, stingrays, seahorses and Queen Angels.
Visitors will want to be sure to explore the Coral Reef Tank, with its unusual layout that allows guests to feel as though they surrounded by fish, swimming right along with them. The Shipwreck Cove exhibit focuses in on predators of the Atlantic Waters, darting in and out from a simulated shipwreck. Other highlights of the Aquarium include tanks devoted to Venomous Beauties, Hidden Creatures, Seahorse Corral and Jewels of the Sea.
The Touch Tank allows visitors to get up close and interact with undersea specimens. In addition to exploring the tanks, visitors can enhance their visit through live aquarium feedings, alligator pettings, touch tank demonstrations or the shark tooth lab. Times and days vary for these interactive events, so it is recommended to review the website prior to visiting the aquarium to optimize the visit. South Florida Science Center and Aquarium in West Palm Beach - Photo: