MOSH Presents Vision For Science Museum On Jacksonville’s Northbank

Nov 12, 2020

On Wednesday the Museum of Science and History unveiled a new illustration of its planned facility across the St. Johns River from its current location.

During a presentation to the Downtown Investment Authority’s Strategic Implementation Committee, the MOSH released a rendering – for illustrative purposes only – that gives a further glimpse into the museum’s latest vision.

At the top of the list of Northbank site benefits listed in the presentation: MOSH officials said resilience would be incorporated into the design.

As awareness of sea level rise grows, museum leadership is planning safeguards against the inherent risk of building next to the river.

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The museum previously planned to renovate and expand its existing Southbank location next to Friendship Fountain but said recent developments made it clear an alternate Northbank site location at the Shipyards is worth pursuing.

MOSH’s leadership cited factors such as the proposed Lot J development nearby at the sports complex and the fact that a new building would eliminate the need to close the MOSH for approximately two years during construction.

The museum’s leadership has been working toward expanding the museum for years. The current museum is 77,000 square feet; plans would increase its size to about 120,000 square feet.

Earlier this year, MOSH announced a $2.5 million donation from VyStar Credit Union to go toward interactive exhibits, along with two other sizable donations.

But MOSH's Northbank move is far from certain.

WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record reported last month the city-owned Shipyards is not immediately available for MOSH - or anyone - to develop.

That's because the Downtown Investment Authority is waiting for the National Park Service to decide if the city can swap Metropolitan Park for Shipyards property to satisfy the requirements of a 1981 grant agreement that prohibits selling the 24.7-acre park without a comparable replacement, the Record reported.

The Shipyards is across from the Maxwell House coffee plant on Bay Street, while Metropolitan Park is across the street from TIAA Bank Field on Gator Bowl Boulevard.

Plans for a Northbank move aren’t far enough along to have cost estimates yet, but MOSH has set a goal of raising $20 million for its expansion.

The previous Southbank expansion plan set a goal of breaking ground in 2023.  The presentation released Wednesday didn’t include a proposed timetable for a Northbank groundbreaking.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.