Two great Fort Myers attractions—Imaginarium Science Center and the Southwest Florida Museum of History have joined together to provide one combined attraction with fun for everyone. Located at the former Imaginarium site on Cranford Avenue in Fort Myers, the new IMAG (pronounced eye-mag) History and Science Center combines the best of both museums to provide fun activities for all ages from one to 101. The IMAG offers visitors the opportunity to create new experiences through the exploration of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and history with an emphasis on Southwest Florida.
Science and History Merge at Fort Myers’ IMAG
While the former Imaginarium attracted mostly children with around 90,000 visitors a year, the Southwest Florida Museum of History drew mainly adults, with just 15,000 visitors. By combining the two museums and channeling city funding into exciting new projects and expansion, it is hoped the new IMAG History and Science Center will have broader appeal and more footfall.
Currently, there are over 60 interactive exhibits and a 3D video as well as touch tanks, aquariums, models, exhibits, and an outdoor wildlife lagoon. Animal Lab is home to a selection of Florida native wildlife including alligators, snakes, turtles, and birds. There’s an imagination Playground where you can shoot at the goalie in a number of virtual games, or try your skills as a live weather reporter on IMAG-TV.
When you need a break from the action, the café serves tasty snacks, drinks, and ice cream which can be enjoyed at tables in the refreshment area.
Fort Myers History Finds a New Home
Many of the fascinating and detailed exhibits from the former Southwest Florida Museum of History have been moved out of the old railway depot and shipped down the road to the new IMAG attraction. These include a propeller from the sunken WW2 bomber, discovered offshore near Sanibel Island, and a battered local tugboat called Aunt Jemima.
The walk-through exhibit of pre-historic Southwest Florida showcases extinct mammoths, mastodons, and saber-tooth cats. More recent Fort Myers history can be seen in the exhibit of First Street in downtown Fort Myers with its shops and businesses circa 1900. The new museum is also the place to see the diorama of the original military fort that gave Fort Myers its name.
Many of the exhibits will be combined to add technology to former museums exhibits. These include the museum’s agriculture and boating displays and the Imaginarium’s hands-on model of the Caloosahatchee River, which has a series of locks and moveable barriers to divert water (and boats) down a variety of channels at different speeds.
The new virtual reality (VR) exhibit, Virtual Fort Myers: The Past Meets the Present, brings the fort alive in a fully immersive 3D experience. The merging of science and history will also allow visitors to look at the fossilized jawbone of the megalodon through their smartphone and see how the whole 60-foot long shark would have looked with the planned short-term improvements.
Hands-On Science Fun at IMAG
Many of the popular attractions remain from the former Imaginarium Science Museum. These include touch tanks of stingrays and the chance to get up-close to a variety of creatures with educational animal encounters supervised by museum staff.
There are still plenty of logic puzzles to solve, and the Dinosaur Exhibit continues to offer the chance to dig up and identify some prehistoric fossils. Learn more about Florida’s weather and hurricanes in a series of Storm Experience simulators and see how science can help protect homes with new types of shutters.
Both kids and adults will enjoy the interactive activities offered at designated stations throughout the center between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the first and third Saturday of each month. “Science Saturday” and “History Saturday” are included with regular admission.
The 3D Theater shows 20-minute films while the popular outdoor Fish Eye Lagoon has Japanese koi which can be fed with fish food from the dispensers on the boardwalk.
Future plans for this fresh new Fort Myers attraction include a new purpose-built building on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and a new entrance plaza and café. The proposed new gallery would bring international traveling exhibits such as the popular “Bodies” and “Titanic” exhibitions to Fort Myers for the first time.
This Fort Myers, Florida non-profit attraction, the IMAG History and Science Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays and closed Mondays.