South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium

NORTH EDUCATION COMPLEX

S FL Museum renderingSOUTHWEST REGION
$23 million TOTAL PROJECT
$12 million FCLF FEDERAL NMTC ALLOCATION
Expansion of existing facility and new construction designed to target disadvantaged youth with STEM education
200 Temporary and 45 Permanent Jobs estimated

“We are grateful to FCLF for helping make this transformative expansion possible and bring a new learning resource to our community. Our partnership with FCLF has enabled us to benefit from the New Markets Tax Credits program, taking us over the finish line in making the North Education Complex a reality.” – Brynne Anne Besio, CEO, South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium


The South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium is the largest natural and cultural history museum in Southwest Florida, serving 10 counties. With NMTC financing, the Museum will build the North Education Complex, a new 23,000 sq-ft addition with classroom and exhibit space specifically designed to break down barriers to STEM education - science, technology, engineering and math - in nearby disadvantaged neighborhoods and area schools and expand the facility’s capability to reach more low-income students.

The Museum has a priority goal of targeting schools in Bradenton’s low-income urban core, serving 11,350 Title I students each year after expansion ‒ a 77% increase. Low-income visitors to the Museum are also expected to more than double, from 15,626 in 2016 to a projected 37,000 annually after expansion. All school programs are based on Florida Standards for STEM and arts and are created with the input of local educators from both public and private schools. 

Professional development is another important part of the South Florida Museum’s current and future work. This includes training for teachers, undergraduate coursework for university students, and internship programs. The NMTC expansion will allow the Museum to reach an estimated 300 educators per year.

Founded in the 1940s by residents who wanted to preserve local history, South Florida Museum offers a diversity of programs and delivery systems from which to learn and explore in the areas of environmental science, astronomy, archaeology, paleontology, geology, math, local and global history, and the arts as they relate to the natural sciences. Additionally, the Museum offers a state-of-the-art digital Planetarium and a Manatee Rehabilitation Aquarium.

Florida Community Loan Fund (FCLF) provided $12 million in federal NMTCs for the South Florida Museum. The investor on the project is PNC Bank. Whitney Hancock Bank provided additional financing.

As a major factor in long-term plans for area redevelopment, the project has been planned in close collaboration with the Bradenton CRA, Manatee County Chamber of Commerce, and the Manatee County Neighborhood Services Department. This expansion is Phase I of a long-range plan for the Museum’s future, as well as a catalyst for future development.

“South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium has been situated in downtown Bradenton for over 70 years. Thanks to NMTC, this mainstay of the downtown area is undergoing an extraordinary new expansion of its grounds and the services it provides. The North Education Complex expansion been designed to break down barriers in reaching low-income students and increasing participation in STEM education. The flexibility of NMTC provides an opportunity to revitalize the urban core and create long lasting community impact.” – Nelson Black, FCLF Chief Lending Officer

Community Profile:

  • Bradenton, FL – Bradenton CRA District
  • 18.2% Unemployment Rate – 2.3x National Average
  • Brownfield, TIF District

To download this information as a pdf file, click here.
For more information, visit South Florida Museum website, www.southfloridamuseum.org

Pictured above: architectural rendering of the South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium after the addition. Below, current museum building.

S FL Museum current

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Thank you to our friends at FCLF. All staff was very patient and helpful as we gathered all the details. We'll make you proud!
- Bill Lazar, Executive Director, St. Johns Housing Partnership