Frost Museum of Science celebrates five years, Cuban history through memories
The Frost Science Museum celebrates five years and the Sundial team visits for a behind-the-scenes look. Plus, a discussion on how Cuban history is passed down for this month’s Sundial Book Club.
On this Wednesday, June 29, edition of Sundial:
The Sundial team visited the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science last week for a field trip. That's because 2022 is the year that the museum is celebrating its first five years at its downtown facility by Biscayne Bay.
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We wanted to explore further what the museum wants to do over the course of the next five years, even 10.
To do that, we went behind the scenes of some of the exhibits with the museum's President & CEO, Frank Steslow. He showed us a few cool spots, including a fossilized mammoth, a lab for growing corals and moon jellies, and a forensic science activity based around the character of Sherlock Holmes.
We also spoke with the museum's Public Programs Manager, Hidekel Olivo-Pinales, about the education side of the museum because we wanted to explore the meaning of science in our South Florida community — what role a science institution plays here and how it supports our teachers and schools and educational programs.
"We have what's called EFT or Enhanced Field Trips. The main goal behind it is that [teachers] actually have access to things they don't have access to in schools, for example, squid dissections. Those are a lot easier to be done here. Teachers are able to get that insight from marine biologists," Olivo-Pinales said.
She described being re-inspired by the children whom she works within the museum.
"I grew up loving dinosaurs. I was at one kid in the Dominican Republic who was like, 'let me show you this bone and how it compares to a dinosaur bone' when it's just a chicken I probably ate like 20 minutes ago," she said. "I really do enjoy seeing how kids are able to come here and have the same passion that I had going to our old location."
"The process of science is inquiry-based, and it's about critical thinking," CEO Steslow said. "And all of those skills are so important to what, you know, what the public needs and can use to understand everyday current events and other things going on. So we want to be that connector that we want to play that role here in South Florida."
The Sundial team explored some exhibits you might be familiar with, like the Power of Science exhibit, which opened during the pandemic. However, we also explored some parts of the museum you might not have visited, like the coral laboratory where the museum researches and cultivates corals, as well as preserves some endangered species of corals.
Steslow also brought us to his favorite exhibit: the Indo-Pacific live coral tank.
"It's just amazing to see people have a perception of coral taking hundreds of years to grow. That's the case with certain corals, other hard corals can grow relatively fast. So I enjoy going down and looking at that exhibit about every week to look for changes," he said. "It's just a lot of little stories of marine science going on in this one exhibition."
You can hear the full conversation and listen to our tour around the museum, below.
Cuban history through memories
So much of the culture and history of South Florida, especially Miami, is centered on Cuban history.
This month on the Sundial Book Club, we’ve been reading the Pulitzer Prize Winner for 2022, Ada Ferrer’s book titled “Cuba: An American History.”
The book explores the island’s history, from its indigenous population to its relationship with the U.S. today. It doesn’t only feature the stories that were saved on historical records but also those anecdotes passed down in families from mothers and fathers, abuelos y abuelas.
“I think what's so remarkable about it when I think about it compared to other kind of, similarly sort of sweeping textbooks about Cuban history is that in telling the long scope, she doesn't sacrifice the sort of intimate details of people's everyday lives. And she does such a wonderful job of trying to kind of highlight the hidden voices and hidden stories that maybe she doesn't have archival evidence for, but she knows that there were folks who experienced one thing or the other,” said Michael Bustamante on Sundial. He is an associate professor of History and the Emilio Bacardí Moreau Chair in Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.
Bustamante is the author of the book “Cuban Memory Wars: Retrospective Politics in Revolution and Exile.”