Ahead of unveiling a newly branded, combined experience for Southwest Florida residents and visitors of all ages to enjoy, the Imaginarium Science Center and Southwest Florida Museum of History have adopted a new, streamlined operating structure and are pleased to announce an expanded board of directors.
While a dynamic rebranding effort remains under wraps, history exhibits are being added to existing science experiences to provide an immersive multidisciplinary experience under one roof at the Imaginarium, 2000 Cranford Ave. in Fort Myers. The Imaginarium has traditionally attracted families and youth groups, while more senior visitors patronized the Museum of History. The combined museum will offer exhibits and programs to appeal to visitors who fall on either end of the age spectrum and on any point in between.
In addition, a new non-profit corporate structure replaces the City of Fort Myers management, allowing the nimbleness required to act quickly in response to market trends while reducing long-term costs to taxpayers. The city continues to serve as partner for this community asset through a 10-year renewable lease of the facility. The former train depot that housed the Museum of History has been leased to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to anchor a technology hub that will be integral to the new Midtown redevelopment project.
The groundwork for the museums’ new organizational structure was established over the past several years under a dedicated and talented board of directors led by outgoing Chair Jonathan Romine of Fort Myers-based planning and design firm EnSite, which has also provided conceptual planning for the future footprint of an expanded campus.
Executive Director Matt Johnson said, “Jon developed the master plan, leading this organization through a difficult process. He’s done an amazing job keeping the board focused and moving forward through staffing transitions and challenges coming out of the recession. He has been an excellent leader from the very beginning, and we’re thrilled to receive his continuing guidance as past chair while we see many fruits of his labor materialize.”
Jon Ellsworth of Enterprise Holdings has been named the new chair of Imaginarium Group Inc., the public-private partnership managing the two museums. In addition to Romine, he joins Vice Chair Carlos Kelly of Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt PA., Treasurer Jennifer Powers of Chico’s FAS Inc. and Secretary Denise Weisinger of GMA Architects & Planners. The board also includes Jeff Bayer of Signarama Fort Myers; Greg Blurton of the Lee County School District; History Professor Erik Carlson of Florida Gulf Coast University; Britt Gravley of Bernard Anthony Salon; Derrick Isaac of Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A.; Kathryn Kelly of the Heights Foundation; Shamie Kelly, Fort Myers native; David Miller of the Chamber of Southwest Florida; and Matt Simmons of Maxwell, Hendry & Simmons LLC.
Romine said, “Science and history are so intertwined in Southwest Florida that they can’t be separated. The two museums can tell a much greater story when they tell it together.”
An “A Night at the Museum” fundraising event has been planned for 7 – 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 4 on the grounds of the new museum, celebrating the rightful alignment of science and history with extinct animals and figures of Florida’s storied past come to life, plus cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, auctions and tours from “Night Watchman” Ted Fitzgeorge. All proceeds will support the Imaginarium and the Museum of History.
About the Imaginarium Science Center
The Imaginarium Science Center is a family-friendly science center and aquarium offering fun interactive exhibits and a 3-D theatre. The mission is to engage guests in the exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through hands-on exhibit experiences and educational programs that further the understanding of the natural and human-made world, foster an appreciation for Southwest Florida’s unique environment and natural waterways, and nurture intellectual curiosity, discovery, and innovation. For more information, visit www.i-sci.org.
About the SWFL Museum of History
The Southwest Florida Museum of History is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of history and traditions, with particular emphasis on Fort Myers and Southwest Florida. Exhibits showcase the region’s rich history, from prehistoric to modern day.
Two great museums come together!
The Imaginarium Science Center and the SWFL Museum of History have been under joint leadership for nearly a decade, but have now combined for a new museum experience. Get a sneak peek as to where that path may lead at this joint fundraising event. It is sure to make history and blaze new trails into the future!