The Jacksonville Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is receiving $2.5 million dollars from VyStar Credit Union.
MOSH President Maria Hane said at a press conference Wednesday the money will provide more interactive exhibits that tell Jacksonville’s cultural history, along with helping support workforce development for students. She also said the funding will be used to help reorient the building’s main entrance to face the St. Johns River.
In 2019, the museum announced its MOSH 2.0 initiative, which is an $80 million dollar expansion project. Museum officials said at the time they were seeking $20 million dollars from businesses, foundations and individuals.
“In the months since then, we have received generous support and contributions from individuals, families and foundations,” Hane said, although she did not say how close the museum is to the goals it set in 2019.
The donation from VyStar marks the first corporate pledge the museum has received.
“I’ve seen all the plans and the drawings,” VyStar CEO Brian Wolfburg said, adding, “I think that what’s to come in MOSH 2.0, as well as other things that are moving forward in the city are very exciting for what Jacksonville looks like in 5, 10, 15 years.”
Wolfburg said the expansion includes shedding a light on history that hasn’t yet been on display in the museum.
Wolfburg will be joining the the MOSH Museum board of trustees beginning in June 2020.
“One of the conversations that we had early on was that we would tell the whole history of the region and the honest history of the region so that we could start quality conversations between individuals in the city,” Wolfburg said, calling the expansion MOSH 2.0’s “cultural ecosystem.”
“It moves us away from a static storytelling which is what generally museums are, where you see a bunch of
pictures and exhibits on the wall, to how visitors can interact in that storytelling,” said Parvez Ahmed, chair of MOSH’s Board of Trustees. “How can they find niches that they can customize in the storytelling to exactly what they're looking for?”
Ahmed said the museum plans for a 2023 groundbreaking, and the museum is still asking for donations from public and private partnerships. Officials are still discussing whether they will close the museum during construction or remain partially open.
The museum plans to expand from 77,000-square-feet to 120,000-square-feet as part of its $80 million renovation. The updated museum will include a cafe on Friendship Park, a rooftop conference center, and additional event space.