On Thursday, December 21, the Museum of Science & History (MOSH) announced the completion of the conceptual exhibit design plan for its proposed 130,000-square-foot museum at the former Jacksonville Shipyards. New York-based Local Projects, a multi-disciplinary design studio, led the six-month conceptual design process in collaboration with MOSH’s leadership, architect team, community partners and multiple subject matter experts.

Intended to cover approximately 22,500 square feet of permanent exhibition spaces, the exhibit design plan presents one of Jacksonville’s most powerful natural assets — the St. Johns River — as the core spatial feature and navigation guide for visitors as they move through the museum. The proposed MOSH Genesis experience begins with passage through a dramatic “river drop”: a two-story water feature representing the full 27-foot drop of the river from its source to the sea.

Guests will then chart their own journey along pathways that mimic the river’s role in connecting the region. Along the way, themed collections and content “islands” will celebrate Northeast Florida’s nature, innovation and culture.

Each island will feature a permanent gallery, an interactive anchor exhibit and four supporting exhibits. According to a recent press release, the approved anchor exhibits within the new Museum will be:

  • The River Lab, an interactive space where augmented reality and analog observational tools invite guests to explore the science behind the St. Johns and contribute to a live data visualization wall that logs their collective discoveries.

  • The Mission-Based Maker Space, a “choose your own adventure” area where guests can tackle four engineering challenges using bespoke tools to engage in iterative problem-solving processes

  • Story Map, a room-scale glass map of the Jacksonville area presenting interactive layers of content including art, films and other cultural artifacts

A combination of primary and secondary research was conducted to develop the exhibit design plan. This effort included the evaluation of data from previous MOSH master plan reports and studies, and the incorporation of inclusive approaches to STEAM education. Additionally, the design team conducted individual and group input sessions with education leaders, business executives and cultural partners in the community.

Subject matter experts consulted throughout this process included:

Nature Island: Kay Ehas, Groundwork Jacksonville; Ryan Hixon, MOSH Trustee; Nick Primrose, JAXPORT; Dr. Quint White, Jacksonville University and OCEARCH; and Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper and MOSH Trustee

Innovation Island: Kelly Dyer, SourceFuse Technologies; Britt Morgan-Saks, MOSH Trustee; Khwaja Shaik, MOSH Trustee and IBM Thought Leader; and Dr. Brian Zoellner, NEFSTEM and University of North Florida

Culture Island: Dr. Alan Bliss, Jacksonville Historical Society; Dr. David Jamison, Edward Waters University; Tim Johnson, MOSH Trustee; Agnes Lopez, MOSH Programming Partner; Kailea Myrick, Ritz Theatre & Museum; ReGina Newkirk Rucci, 904WARD; Shawna Newman, MOSH Programming Partner; Brian Wolfburg, MOSH Trustee; Larry Yazzi, MOSH Programming Partner

“Crafting the exhibit design plan for MOSH has been an incredibly collaborative and creative process. We believe the approach will spark curiosity about nature, culture and innovation for visitors of all ages in a way that honors and reflects the local context,” said Eric Mika, Creative Director of Local Projects. “We look forward to working with MOSH and the Northeast Florida community to turn these concepts into reality in the coming years to build an awe-inspiring experience at the new location.”

“Throughout this process, we had the opportunity to hear from leaders at the forefront of the region’s growth — as well as communities whose stories are long overdue for a broader audience,” said Amanda White, Director of Content at Local Projects.

Museum leaders received site plan approval from the Downtown Investment Authority’s board of directors on December 21, 2022. Plans are expected to undergo a full review by the City Council in early 2023. Having outgrown its 77,000-square-foot Southbank location, early projections estimate that by building a new facility at the Jacksonville Shipyards, MOSH will be able to serve 469,000 visitors (a 168% increase over pre-pandemic numbers) each year.