The Museum of Arts and Sciences opened in 1971.
The Museum of Arts and Sciences hosted a 70s-themed birthday celebration for its 50th year of successful operation at the Nova Road location in Daytona Beach Sunday, July 25.
Dense green vegetation surrounded the path that led visitors to the museum nestled in the Tuscawilla Preserve. The white and tan block building rose out of the foliage with a warm welcoming glow emanating through its open glass frontage.
Classic cars crowded the courtyard setting the tone for the event with a 1971 black and gold Chevelle SS parked in their midst. The muscle car was at the height of production the same year the museum had its grand opening.
Andrew Sandall has been the executive director of the museum for over nine years, which is nearly a third of his 30 year career working with museums. He is a native of England but has spent over half the time in his profession as a resident of the United States and now calls Florida his home. When Sandall arrived, the museum was already established but he has been instrumental in its modernization. During his tenure, the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art was built along with the restoration of the L. Gale Lemerand Wing after it flooded.
“I think it’s such a great time for reflection,” Sandall said, “It seems like we’ve been here longer in some ways but when you actually put a number on it, it’s staggering to think what we have achieved and what we’ve got here. I don’t think people even know a time when there wasn’t a MOAS in town because we’ve been such a fixture in the community.”
Volunteers greeted guests as they signed in. MOAS members were free with non-members paying $5. DJ Jukebox Bully Danna Alencar played a wide array of top oldies from the decade while people perused the various museum galleries and exhibits. Patrons were offered a list of event happenings which included guided tours of the Tuscawilla Preserve, “That 70s Star Show” and “Sounds of the 70s Laser Show” in the Lohman Planetarium. That afternoon, the 1971 president Leila Gosney and the current president Katherine Hurst Miller kicked off the birthday cake cutting ceremony followed by happy hour. Guests were encouraged to sign the memory wall and partake in a feast at JD’s Pop-up Kitchen or dessert at Churro’s and Cream food trucks.
Senior curator of education and historian Zach Zacharias took groups on boardwalk tours through the Tuscawilla Preserve. He has been with the museum since 1994 and has watched it grow from 45,000 square feet to its current 102,000 square feet. Due to the foresight of the museum operators in the mid-1960s, they were able to secure 10 acres in Tuscawilla Park which became the facilities third location while serendipitously rescuing the preserve from urban development. MOAS currently owns the entire 90 acres of the preserve.
“What’s really good about a place like this is that it’s an oasis,” Zacharias said. “It’s the last refuge for plants and animals that are native to this area. It’s a stop over place for a lot of birds that are migrating from north to south and south to north. It’s also a chance for people to see what the environment was like when the first people came here.”
Sandall believes that the key to staying relevant is by listening to what the community needs them to be and continue to be a valuable resource. This fall, Volusia County Schools will be utilizing the museum for part of their science education. Current MOAS benefactors Lowell and Nancy Lohman recently donated $340,000 which will provide museum passes for all fifth and eighth graders, approximately 10,000 students. According to the school district’s website, the school board approved a formal agreement between VCS and MOAS to establish the new field study program.
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry is well aware of the museum’s value within the community. He has officially decreed July 25 as the Museum of Arts and Sciences Day.
This story was updated at 11:17 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 3, to correct that the vehicle on display was a 1971 black and gold Chevelle SS.