SKOLNICK was engaged by the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH), Florida’s official state natural history museum, to create a new Discovery Zone for young children and families, which opened in July 2017.
The Discovery Zone serves as an introductory experience to the FLMNH’s major collections and research in the areas of Archaeology, Ethnography, Natural Sciences, and Paleontology. It conveys that our world is rich in biological diversity and cultural heritage, and that understanding and appreciating our past and present world can inspire us to make a difference in our future. The exhibits encourage children and their caretakers to care about life on earth and cultural heritage, and their role within these spheres.
The design of the Discovery Zone is based on the idea of an ever expanding world of knowledge about our diverse planet and the interconnected web of life. Children are literally surrounded by hundreds of specimens and visual elements representing this biodiversity and the richness of the Museum’s collections. The entrance area features familiar flora and fauna found in a typical North Florida backyard. Inside, visitors encounter a spherical shaped framework which expands outward from a central area focused on the morphology and adaptation of plants and insects. A larger than life sculpture of a Zebra Longwing butterfly (Florida’s state butterfly) and its host plant, the Passionflower, form a centerpiece to the exhibit. Other nearby activity areas encourage visitors to ‘Play’, ‘Pretend’, ‘Explore’ and ‘Study’ using various interactive experiences and specimens from the collection areas.