TAMPA — It is a gift intended to keep on giving to kids and families throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Florida Hospital recently presented the Museum of Science and Industry with a $2 million contribution. A major portion of the donation will go toward converting the IMAX dome theater from film to a digital 3-D projection system, a critical transition since 70-mm film productions are becoming obsolete.
In turn, the 20-year-old facility — the only domed theater in Florida — will be renamed the Florida Hospital IMAX Dome Theater.
Wit Ostrenko, MOSI’s president and CEO, was the first person at the podium during the formal unveiling of the partnership between the two nonprofit organizations that brought out several local elected officials and MOSI board members.
“This is exciting,” he said. “I’ll never go to the moon or to the bottom of the ocean, but the IMAX theater will take me there.”
Mike Schultz, president and CEO of Florida Hospital’s western region, called the occasion a “new day and a good day.”
“This will help MOSI move forward into the future,” he said.
The balance of the hospital’s contribution likely will be used to help pay down the museum’s much publicized debt and to fund some programs, said MOSI spokeswoman Shannon Herbon.
Another component of the partnership will be live, interactive broadcasts of the hospital’s surgeons performing routine surgeries. Intended primarily for viewing by middle school through college-age students, they will be aired in the museum’s Coleman Science Works Theater.
“It’s all about turning kids on to science and medicine,” said Molly Demeulenaere, MOSI’s vice president of growth.
The IMAX dome theater’s transfiguration is expected to take 12 to 18 months to put into place, whereas the live surgery presentations will begin this fall in conjunction with the new school year, said Florida Hospital spokeswoman Jennifer McVan.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]