By Eric Barton
City & Shore Magazine
It’s Friday, you’re in your 20s and you’re looking for something cool to do after work. Your options, pretty much, boil down to one thing: bars.
Which is why the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale has begun to open its doors at night once a quarter, giving a largely younger adult audience access to interactive exhibits built for kids but also a fine way to spend a Friday.
Called Discovery After Dark, it’s an idea that began in museums elsewhere across the country and brought to MODS last year, says Joseph Cox, the president/CEO. Cox joined the museum last February after spending seven years at the EcoTarium Museum of Science & Nature in Worcester, Mass. He says museums these days must bring in a young adult audience that traditionally wasn’t the main clientele.
“The idea of opening up museums at night has really been growing for the last few years and has been successful in really exposing museum content to a younger audience,” Cox says. After coming to Fort Lauderdale, he says he noticed the condo buildings popping up around downtown Fort Lauderdale and realized there was likely a market for events focused on younger people.
“It’s really, literally opening up the doors,’’ he says, “and come play.”
About a hundred mostly young professionals milled through the museum’s interactive exhibits on the second floor at the most recent event, making paper airplanes to shoot from a paper airplane cannon, building mini robots out of blocks and donning Magic Leap augmented reality glasses.
While a science museum might seem largely for kids, about 20 percent of those who go to MODS don’t have kids, says Meredith Feder, deputy director of strategic initiatives. The hope behind Discovery After Dark is to bring even more of the kid-free clientele in by making the events 21-plus.
The next events – Feb. 20 and July 16 – will be held after the museum opens its new dinosaur exhibit, which Cox says is a big draw for adults.
“You say dinosaurs,” Cox says, “and suddenly everybody converts to a 6-year-old kid.”
PHOTO: Joseph Cox, CEO of MODS, third from left, with guests at Discovery After Dark. (Photo courtesy).