When you’re a longstanding museum whose exhibits explore Florida’s natural history spanning several millennia, and whose planetarium shows traverse the entire known cosmos: a little evolution is to be expected here and there.
At The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in downtown Bradenton, celebrating the museum’s 75th anniversary means tinkering with a mix of new concepts and tossing in a sprinkle of nostalgic old favorites. The end result is an evolution into something infinitely cooler than it ever was before.
The Bishop’s 75th year is themed Year of Light, featuring new exhibitions and experiences designed to dazzle visitors of all ages. It will also introduce new interpretations of the museum’s collections (whether guests are visiting for their first time or their hundredth) and evoke an electrifying and ageless, joyous sense of wonder.
Oh, and… The laser light shows are back!
Visit old favorites with a splash of something new
Priscilla, the fossilized Mastodon standing over 11 feet tall in the museum lobby, is one of the old favorites you’ll always encounter at The Bishop. Same goes for the visiting manatees who receive care at the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat before returning to the wild, and the Planetarium, too.
Other familiar sights are the permanent exhibits on Florida’s prehistoric natural history, ecology, and archaeological artifacts from Indigenous societies. The museum’s second story features rotating permanent collections on southwest Florida’s biodiversity, and the history of industry along the Manatee River with a focus on local maritime history.
Fun tip: Museum staff say don’t miss peeking inside the drawers in a second-floor corridor to view mini-collections ranging from fossilized shells to forgotten historic tech and trinkets.
For those looking to experience The Bishop like never before: Year of Light opens with an exhibition called Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies. This special exhibit offers entirely new perspectives on prehistoric specimens and cultural artifacts by introducing cool scientific imaging technologies: infrared photography, scanning electron microscopy, and computed tomography (CT).
While special exhibitions like Picturing Science (organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York) are temporary, The Bishop’s Museum Experience team says new perspectives are here to stay. Visitors can look forward to more innovative, STEM-focused, and visually-striking exhibitions year-round at the museum, throughout Year of Light and beyond.
Get bodies and brains moving: Mosaic Backyard Universe, Yoga with the Manatees
At the Mosaic Backyard Universe, kids of all ages can dig for fossils, climb the treehouse platform (an ADA-lift ensures everyone can enjoy the view), view a scale model of the solar system, tinker with STEM tools in the Science Shed, and more.
Visit the Mosaic Backyard Universe on the second Sunday of the month for family yoga, open to all ages. Adults can also enjoy gentle yoga in small groups alongside the graceful manatees at the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat on the third and fourth Sunday of the month.
Visit Yoga at the Bishop to learn more about schedules and pricing.
Bishop After Dark: Nightlife with a side of education at the museum
This one’s for you, night owls. The Bishop is going BAD — Bishop After Dark, that is — every fourth Thursday evening. BAD offers an after-hours opportunity to learn something new and cool each month… with a drink in hand.
Mix and mingle with special guests who’ll share their multidisciplinary expertise on a unique topic, and then participate in a hands-on activity: create art, solve a murder mystery, or pair tacos with local craft beer during microbiology-themed brewing trivia. Whatever BAD brings to downtown Bradenton each month, it’s guaranteed to be a new experience.
Note: If you enjoy BAD, we bet you’ll enjoy The Bishop’s quarterly think + drink / science, too.
If you know you know: Planetarium laser light shows are BACK!
If you’re a Bradenton local, there’s a chance you scrolled ahead to confirm the rumors are true and — yes! Ashley Waite, Director of Museum Experience, has the scoop on the laser light shows longtime fans of The Bishop remember fondly from the 1980’s and 90’s:
“Our Year of Light provides the perfect opportunity to bring laser light shows back to The Bishop! And this won’t just be your dad’s laser shows. In addition to all the classics, we’ll also have shows for the 90’s babies – NSYNC, Britney, and Lady Gaga, to name a few. I’m super excited to break out the acid-washed denim and rock out in the Planetarium,” Waite says.
Laser light shows return to The Bishop on May 26th.
Follow The Bishop on Facebook to keep up with the latest laser light show news, and more!
A museum for everyone: 75 years and counting
“What excites me most about our 75th year is the programs that we’re introducing to bring the local community together,” says The Bishop’s Business and Development Coordinator, Nicole Hackel.
“I’m excited for the community to experience The Bishop as a place to gather with their family and friends often, instead of being somewhere they only visit every few years. Our goal is to have something that caters to all ages and backgrounds,” she adds.
Learn more at www.BishopScience.org.