Sunday, May 20, 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performance stemmed the bleeding at MOSI, which struggled with financial shortfalls, a leadership void, a cavernous, outdated facility and a sclerotic sense of mission.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: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

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Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

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Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

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Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

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Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

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Published: 05/15/18
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Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18