Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Tampa’s MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough County’s Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open as it positions for a brighter future. This testifies to MOSI’s appeal and solid brand name in the market and to the continuing support from leaders who recognize the value in preserving this institution.

The north Tampa museum made $90,384 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to financial statements provided to the Tampa Bay Times. While not a blockbuster number, the museum lost $1.4 million in 2016, ran a deficit of $438,000 in 2015 and had not finished in the black since 2012.

The improved performance stemmed the bleeding at MOSI, which struggled with financial shortfalls, a leadership void, a cavernous, outdated facility and a sclerotic sense of mission. Museum president and CEO Julian Mackenzie told the Times’ Steve Contorno that MOSI "came very close to shutting its doors for good." Having shed staff and moved into a much smaller space, the museum is projecting a small surplus for 2018 as well.

This turnaround was not by accident; it reflects the difficult but necessary decision by MOSI to adapt to the realities of the times. MOSI consolidated space within its longtime home across from the University of South Florida’s north Tampa campus, closing low-performing exhibits and reducing its footprint to less than one-sixth its former size. A smaller facility and staffing cuts enabled MOSI to reduce costs while maintaining a presence in Tampa, furthering its ability to remain in operation until 2022, when it expects to move into a new home in downtown Tampa as part of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik’s $3 billion remake of the channel district.

MOSI needed to change course to freshen its appeal and renew its mission. The slimmed-down facility relaunched last month with lower ticket prices and a new digital exhibit; officials also plan to bring back traveling exhibits to the museum along with special events. And MOSI is looking to bring the museum’s science instructors to schools across the region; called MOSI in Motion, the program aims to use a fleet of vans for an educational outreach program that would bring 1,350 off-site "science experiences" to school campuses each year.

The new relationships MOSI is forging will be important as it seeks support for a new home and as it looks to programming that attracts more visitors. Vinik and others have helped MOSI by giving it the time and breathing space to rebuild its finances and freshen its look. Board chairman Robert Thomas has provided a strong and steady hand during the transition.

MOSI still faces many hurdles in moving to a new space and reinvigorating an old brand. But the desire and creativity seem to be there, the management team is committed and realistic, and the prospects for building new ties with the private sector are only getting stronger in a region with dynamic growth. MOSI will need to continue sharpening its focus and paying attention to its bottom line. But this is a fresh break from years of bad news, and it promises that MOSI will continue to contribute to the bay area’s culture and quality of life.

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Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Forceful words are coming from the pope’s pen as well as pulpits around Tampa Bay: The sexual abuse of minors, which proliferated for decades within the Roman Catholic Church, were not merely sins but crimes whose repercussions are still being felt b...
Published: 08/20/18
Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Within weeks of taking office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott made one of the worst decisions of his administration and refused $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Within months of leaving office, the governor...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Local governments across the land can find plenty of reasons to go after the drug industry over the crisis of opioid addiction.Hillsborough County can find more reasons than most.• In 2016, the county led the state with 579 babies born addicted to dr...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

The environmental crisis in South Florida has fast become a political crisis. Politicians in both parties are busy blaming one another for the waves of toxic algae blooms spreading out from Lake Okeechobee and beyond, fouling both coasts and damaging...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/20/18
Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

It is real news that the Hillsborough County School District said this week it will accelerate testing for lead in drinking water and release the results after the Tampa Bay Times reported testing would take years and that until we asked families wer...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/16/18

Bumping into GOP cowardice on guns

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Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

The revelation that three people in Pinellas County have contracted the measles virus should be a wake-up call to everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t been — and to implore parents to immunize their kids. Contagious diseases such as measles can...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

A good reputation can vanish overnight, which is why Habitat for Humanity of Hills-borough County made a smart decision by announcing it would seek to buy back 12 mortgages it sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping properties. The arrange...
Published: 08/14/18
Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

40%of Americans who were eligible to vote for president in 2016 just didn’t bother. That number dwarfs the portion of all eligible voters who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump — 27.6 percent — or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton, 28.8 percent...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made a reasonable decision to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter in last month’s deadly Clearwater convenience store parking lot confrontation. The shooting, which erupted over use of a handicap parkin...
Published: 08/13/18