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Southwest Florida has a new early learning resource. The Mosaic Backyard Universe at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton is a brand-new permanent exhibition geared toward children two to eight years old, providing a welcoming and safe place for them to begin learning about science and nature.  

The Mosaic Backyard Universe is part of the North Education Center, the Museum’s new wing that opened October 1. The expansion includes 12,600 square feet of new and renovated classroom and exhibition space.

This allows The Bishop to provide daily opportunities for public programs like IQuest, expanded homeschool courses, and additional school field trips. It will also be home to collaborative endeavors with the School District of Manatee County and other public schools, private schools, and the Early Learning Coalition.

The Backyard introduces young children and their families to the wonders of science and nature, encouraging them to learn by following their own curiosity. Built for families to experience together, the exhibition supports the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teacher.

With a scale solar system model, freshwater pond with native turtles, science shed, fossil dig pit, cardboard rocket, and life-sized mighty oak, the Backyard allows people to make their own discoveries. To make it accessible to all ages, the Museum took an approach that emphasizes interaction rather than extensive reading. The team developed an environment in which early learners can explore, investigate -and discover their own answers, supported by trusted adults.

“This is an incredible milestone for The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature and the community,” said CEO Brynne Anne Besio. “The renovation and expansion that we undertook has resulted in this new permanent exhibition that is a major contribution to the educational landscape of the region. We now have an inventive way to serve younger children and their families – both students and the general public. It will also have big impacts on our community’s tourism and economic sectors. Thanks to the community’s support, we’ve transformed The Bishop and further strengthened our role as a vital and treasured community resource.”

Early support for the expansion came from Mosaic and The Mosaic Company Foundation, which not only encouraged the Museum’s Board to “think big” in terms of planning new programs and spaces to serve the educational needs of young children and their families, but also provided financial support with a $1.3 million grant.

“When the Museum approached us with the opportunity to support their fundraising campaign, we were delighted to make a significant contribution—and we encouraged the museum not to think just big, but bigger,” said Ben Pratt, Vice President Corporate Public Affairs and Executive Director, The Mosaic Company Foundation.

“The Museum has been a cornerstone of the Manatee County community for generations. The new Mosaic Backyard Universe is an amazing space designed to ignite children’s imaginations and spark a love for the natural world.”

“It is with great excitement that the School District of Manatee County anticipates the opening of the Mosaic Backyard Universe, a developmentally appropriate learning space where early learners can imagine, play, make, and share as they interact with interesting materials and possibilities,” said Dr. Robin Thompson, Director of Early Learning Curriculum at the School District. 

“The School District of Manatee County has enjoyed a long partnership with The Bishop and looks forward to continuing to partner to make learning relevant in students’ lives.”

The Mosaic Backyard Universe at The Bishop brings a new world of fun, interactive exploration to the region’s young learners and the young-at-heart, who feel the joy of discovery in lifelong learning.

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