• Sunshine City Kids

Crossing the Skyway: A Visit to The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature

Take a look inside The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton, Florida.

One of the best benefits of having an annual membership to a museum like Great Explorations Children's Museum is the inclusion of reciprocal deals in the membership. And until June 30th, all Great Ex members can receive FREE admission to The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature located just across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Bradenton.

We took advantage of a particularly steamy Florida morning to explore this museum and beat the summer break boredom with some new views and quite the educational experience without venturing too far from our St. Petersburg home.

The Bishop Museum, formerly known as the South Florida Museum, is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida's Gulf Coast. It features two floors of permanent exhibits spanning Florida's history — from the earliest fossilized evidence of animal inhabitants and Paleo-Indian culture to more recent technology and local maritime artifacts. Several interactive and hands-on stations throughout help keep the kids engaged (and secretly learning).

The museum is also home to the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Center. This second-stage rehabilitation habitat temporarily houses previously treated manatees before their release back into the wild. Caregivers give presentations throughout the day on the second floor, with an underwater viewing area located outside on the first.

Currently, National Geographic's "Photo Ark" is on temporary display at the museum until July 14th. The goal of the project by photographer Joel Sartore is to "create portraits of the world’s species before they disappear and inspire people to care." Each photograph highlights the animal's threat level and allows for easy conversation with young children about the risk these species face.

Visitors can also find The Bishop Museum's full-dome Planetarium on the first floor, but it's important to note that access is not included with reciprocal admission. Cost for this is an additional $6 per person or free for children under four when using reciprocity (access is included with regular admission).

The Bishop Museum is open Tuesday - Sunday at 201 10th Street W. Free street parking and paid garage parking are available near the museum. So pack a lunch, load up the kids, and enjoy an easy day trip on a dime.

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