Our History

A Legacy of Learning Since 1976

A Mission of Inspiring Science

The mission of the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) is Connecting People to Inspiring Science. MODS fulfills its mission through four educational content pillars – Early Childhood Education, Environmental Sustainability, Health & Wellness and Physical Science – approved by the Board in its 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

To achieve its mission, MODS embraces six enduring values:

DISCOVERY through inquiry-based learning experiences;

INCLUSIVITY in which equity and access are vital to success;

COLLABORATION in pursuit of mission-based public and private partnerships;

CREATIVITY where inspiration and innovation take flight;

EDUCATION as an inspirational force for informal science; and

VISITOR FOCUSED, fostering a warm and welcoming atmosphere with layers of learning.

MODS is a 501 c 3 non-profit, founded in 1976 as The Discovery Center and opened to the public in 1977. After 10 years of operation, community demand far exceeded the Museum’s capabilities in its small complex. From 1986 to 1992, the Museum conducted a successful $33 million capital campaign and in November 1992 opened the new Museum of Discovery and Science and Blockbuster IMAX Theater in downtown Fort Lauderdale. In 2007, the IMAX Theater was renamed the AutoNation IMAX Theater in recognition of a major gift. In 2011, MODS opened a $25 million wing, the EcoDISCOVERY CENTER, examining the Florida environment through the lens of environmental stewardship. In 2014, to address the growing need for STEM education in our community, MODS established the STEM CENTER FOR EDUCATION AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT, focused on advancing public engagement in STEM.

In 2018, MODS completed a $7 million capital campaign, renovating the building and IMAX theater and expanding exhibits to include a 27,000 sq. ft. outdoor SCIENCE PARK on one acre of museum property. In 2019, MODS opened a new MAKERSPACE and expanded its TO FLY gallery to include Inspiration Takes Flight, a 7D film created for MODS inside a motion simulator. In 2020, with support through PNC’s national Grow Up Great initiative, MODS opened the SPROUTING STEM EARLY CHILDHOOD LEARNING LAB providing immersive discovery for ages 0-6. That same year, in response to the pandemic, the Museum launched the MODS STEMobile, a makerspace on wheels. A fleet of STEMobiles delivers programs to 40,000 youth annually, including free programs impacting a minimum of 25,000 youth in low-income communities.

For 45 years, MODS has been a respected resource, responsive to the educational and cultural needs of South Florida residents and our 425,000 annual visitors, including 90,000 PreK-12 students on field trips. The Museum’s two-story, 150,000 sq. ft. facility of interactive exhibits reflects the interests and issues facing our community – from aviation and environmental sustainability to health and wellness. Paid internships for high school students including EVERGLADES ECOEXPLORERS and a new AVIATION ACADEMY beginning in 2023, reflect the Museum’s commitment to workforce development and the need to fill the job pipeline for South Florida industries. MODS collaborates with numerous partners including the Save Our Seas Foundation, Broward County Public Schools, Community Foundation of Broward, Giant Screen Cinema Association, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, JetBlue, Citrix and AARP, to name a few, plus universities including Florida Atlantic and Florida International University and government agencies. Through these partnerships MODS has emerged as a dynamic hub for public dialogue and discovery, from solutions to climate change at our YOUTH CLIMATE SUMMIT to life-saving information on hurricane preparedness at our annual EYE OF THE STORM event.

MODS has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums for three decades (only 3% of science museums in the U.S. are accredited for excellence and leadership). In the past year we have added to that distinction by being named Broward’s Hub for Resilience Education by the Community Foundation of Broward; selected by the LEGO Foundation as one of only 12 museums nationwide to participate in their Playful Learning Museum Network; and was named a finalist for the 2022 IMLS National Medal for Museum Service.