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MOSI announces plans to move downtown

The Museum of Science and Industry announced on Tuesday plans to move into the developing downtown Tampa led by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. SPCIAL TO THE ORACLE

With the skyline of downtown Tampa taking on a new appearance, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) announced a plan to contribute to that change.

The MOSI board of directors led a review of the feasibility of moving downtown and leaving the current location across the street from USF. The review found this move would lead to an increase in attendance and profit, and support partnerships with Hillsborough County and Strategic Property Partners, which is leading the redevelopment effort.

After over 30 years at the current location on Fowler Avenue, the board voted on Tuesday in favor of the move. 

About one year ago, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik suggested the move would fit with his plans for development in the downtown area. The property MOSI is currently on is owned by Hillsborough County, and this move still needs to be approved by Hillsborough County commissioners.  

According to the Tampa Bay Times, some county leaders are eager to turn the property into a tax-revenue producer.

According to its website, MOSI is a private, nonprofit corporation that aims to inspire the public about science and technology through interactive experiences.

Currently, USF students receive a $2 discount for tickets. There is no current information about whether that will continue, when MOSI will be moving or where exactly the new building will be.

MOSI plans to create a task force of community partners, land use experts, philanthropists, museum master planners, scientists and educators to evaluate the move and the appearance of the new location. This includes not only the physical building, but also the kind of reinvention the new location would allow.

According to a press release, MOSI Board Chair Mike Schultz plans to lead the task force. He is also president and CEO of Florida Hospital’s West Florida Region and reportedly has helped design multiple projects in that role by building new major hospitals.

“We are going to work with the best and brightest minds available to truly reinvent MOSI and its role in our community,” Schultz said in the press release. “We’ll be looking at governance — who is helping drive this forward — and what needs to be in place for a total success.”

As of now, MOSI plans to launch a strategic planning process to chart the future of the company, lead conversations with people of Tampa Bay to find out what they want from the new institution and engage with local professionals to plan and design the new center.

“Our planners will be seeking out innovative designs and exciting ways to touch the future. And we’ll also be elevating key elements of MOSI’s existing programs — exploring space, understanding health sciences and connecting with tomorrow,” MOSI President and CEO Molly Demeulenaere said in the press release. “In the year ahead, MOSI will move from a focus on being the largest science center in the Southeast to becoming one of the finest in North America.”

According to USF Media and Public Affairs Manager Adam Freeman, as part of the Tampa Innovation Alliance, the university is willing to assist in discussions about what will happen to the property on Fowler.

“As an institution that shares many similar goals, the University of South Florida supports MOSI and hopes to see the museum succeed with the location and strategic direction its leadership determines will be most effective,” Freeman said.