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As daily attendance and participation in our educational programming continues to increase at the museum, Great Explorations is faced with the need for additional space. We are poised now to build upon an earlier investment and a rich legacy to meet today’s needs and prepare for tomorrow’s future. This project will focus on enhancing our space on both floors and addressing our five greatest needs.


In progress
  • Renovation of current museum – Great Explorations re-opened its doors nearly 12 years ago in its current location on 4th Street North in St. Petersburg. Since then, daily attendance at the museum has increased to over 204,458 visitors annually. Great Explorations will restore the existing exhibit space and improve the space by becoming more energy-efficient and eco-friendly. Great Explorations will also upgrade existing exhibit spaces and their educational components to promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).
  • Additional museum exhibit space – As daily attendance continues to increase at the museum, Great Explorations is faced with the need for additional exhibit space. Annual museum memberships continue to rise, and on-site walk-in attendance has seen significant growth, due to our being a nationally-recognized accredited museum by the AAM. Great Explorations will add several new exhibits to keep up with the demand for innovative, hands-on exhibits.
  • Transform first floor into open floor plan – Currently, Great Explorations consists of an average of twenty exhibits in the existing museum space. Those exhibits are enclosed in areas that are not visible upon entry to the museum. Great Explorations will remove the exhibit walls and create an open floor plan on the first floor. Reimagining the main gallery floor will allow us to showcase 5,800+ sq ft of existing and new open exhibit space. This transformation will not only allow Great Explorations to serve 46,000 more children each year, but it also enhances accessibility for children with special needs.


  • Great Room Expansion – With increased birthday party and meeting rentals, programs, and participation in our camps, additional space for these events is crucial. The second floor mezzanine will include a newly constructed 2,311 sq ft Great Room to accommodate more programs and events. The Great Room can be easily partitioned to allow for multiple programs or events at the same time, accommodating a total of 128 people. The completion of this project will allow for increased enrollment in our summer camps and school’s out camps by 44%. Construction of the mezzanine, including a separate entrance from the lobby, the addition of ADA compliant restrooms, and increased capacity will be an estimated cost of $1,500,000.



  • Early Explorations Preschool Expansion – Early Explorations Preschool opened in 2007 with 28 students enrolled.  Since then, attendance at Early Explorations has grown to capacity with 110 students currently enrolled in the preschool.   With our Great Expansion project, and support of our capital campaign, Great Explorations was able to add a new classroom and renovate current classrooms expanding the capacity for the preschool, allowing Early Explorations Preschool to accommodate 38% more children.  Thank you to our donors who made this growth possible.

All donations over $2,500 will appear on a unique donor wall. Capital campaign donations of any amount are welcome and greatly appreciated! Please contact Darryl Feldman at for sponsorship or other donation opportunities. Naming opportunities are available for those who wish to make a lead gift to the capital campaign. Below is a list that will allow you to associate a business name, your name, or that of a loved one to a designated space in the museum.


MEZZANINE – $1,000,000

This dynamic space, with a view overlooking the interactive main floor gallery, will feature a 1,920 sq. ft. multipurpose room for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) programming, camps, birthday parties, private rentals and more. This space will increase our capacity by 50% to serve more families and increase our impact within the community.



The main floor gallery is filled with hands-on exhibits designed to build and enhance the skills necessary for early childhood development. Being geared towards children 0-10 years old, our focus is to ignite curiosity, creativity, communication, and critical thinking. The learning that occurs within the exhibits functions as a vital link between families and school, bridging an early learning experience with formal education. Children can create, build and imagine a place where anything is possible!



The Great Stuff Gift Shop features books, educational toys, science experiments and more for children of all ages to enjoy at home. The retail store serves as a museum exit for our families and allows Great Ex to subsidize the $750,000 of in-kind services we donate to our community and the 100 hours of free museum access to organizations serving at-risk children and families.


ENTRY STAIRS – $250,000

The entry stairs will be the first impression for members and visitors of the museum. The stairs also serve as stadium style- seating to welcome field trips and host camp orientations. It will also provide additional seating for museum guests in the lobby.


BOARD ROOM – $250,000

The board room will be used as a meeting place for board members, corporate rentals, training/informational sessions, and educational presentations. It will also be available at no charge for our community partners who serve at-risk children and families.



Studies show that productivity jumped 15% in a collaborative workplace that encouraged and supported brainstorming, peer critiques, and the free exchange of ideas. Most importantly, this kind of space fosters creativity, exploration and innovation, which are fundamental to the success of the serious work of child’s play that the staff of Great Explorations do.



Help us provide academic success to our preschool students by sponsoring one of our seven classrooms. Your gift will help us continue to provide age-appropriate educational programming and necessary classroom materials. With your support and contributions, Early Explorations Preschool can accommodate 38% more children.


PARK BENCH – $30,000

In the early 1900’s St. Petersburg was known as the “City of Green Benches.” These benches were a gathering place for St. Petersburg residents and tourists, serving as the symbol of hospitality. Just like the historic “Green Benches” of St. Pete, the benches throughout Great Explorations can provide a perfect spot for caregivers to rest their feet, make a new friend, and enjoy watching their children have fun learning while they play. There are four benches available for sponsorship.


STREET LIGHT – $20,000

Help light the path to play, creativity and exploration by purchasing a street light within the main floor gallery. Four street lights are available for sponsorship.



Aspiring young minds need a dedicated road map for success to launch their learning expeditions. Help guide them along their journey by naming a street or avenue within the main floor gallery. Four signs are available for sponsorship.

The Great Expansion will be a big deal at Great Explorations—and throughout our community!


Thirty years ago, the Junior League of St. Petersburg set out to create a local children’s museum to serve the children and families in the Tampa Bay area. As a result, Great Explorations Children’s Museum was founded through partnership of the Junior League of St. Petersburg and Hands On!, Inc., a local exhibit design firm. In 1987, the museum opened its doors to an enthusiastic public.

In 2003, we relocated from the St. Petersburg Pier to an historic building on 4th Street N. outside downtown St. Petersburg adjacent to Sunken Gardens. In 2007, Jeanne and Bill Heller founded Early Explorations Preschool, a year-round, members-only preschool serving children ages 2-5.

In 2014, we became the first mid-sized children’s museum in the United States and the only children’s museum in the Tampa Bay area to receive accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest honor for a museum.



Our mission is to stimulate learning through creativity, play, and exploration. We fulfill our mission by offering interactive exhibits and educational programming within a learning environment that is informal, creative and fun! Each exhibit is designed to enhance the skill sets that our children are working on at such a young age: fine and gross motor skills, social/emotional development, critical thinking/creative problem solving, community awareness, safety, science, math, and literacy.



Great Explorations is very appreciative of all that the St. Petersburg community has done to help us build a nationally accredited museum and award-winning preschool that positively impacts the lives of children and families in St. Petersburg. We help develop and nurture a strong educational foundation through fun, creative exhibits and programs that engage children ages 0 – 10.

As a nonprofit organization, we strive to be as self-sustaining as possible and we consistently apply for grants to supplement the work we are doing in the community. We are truly grateful for the funds we receive through these grants; however, they are not guaranteed. Therefore, donations by local museum supporters remain a substantial source of funding support. Regardless, Great Explorations continues to serve thousands of children and families through in-kind services and programs each year.

We continue to strengthen financially and build our attendance and membership base. As daily museum attendance and participation in our educational programs continues to grow each year, we are faced with the need for additional space. We are poised now to build upon this success by expanding and renovating the museum to include a second floor mezzanine with a 1,920 sq. ft. multipurpose room, preschool expansion, and new interactive and educational exhibits for children to play in and explore for many years to come.



Great Explorations is dedicated to a culture of inclusion that inspires children to value themselves and the unique qualities in others through the provision of environments and experiences that foster cooperative play, inquiry and self-discovery. We embrace diversity to better reflect and serve our community. We strive to attract and retain talented and diverse people, and to create an inclusive environment where all Board members and employees can contribute to their fullest potential. In a changing world in which we endeavor to improve our business, it is imperative that Great Explorations reflect the diversity of cultures, thinking and perspectives of its current and prospective guests. Tapping the skills, ideas and perspectives of a diverse workforce will make us a better company, and is key to sustaining our continued growth.


As a certified 501c3 non-profit, your support means everything to us. The Great Expansion capital campaign aims to enhance your children’s museum with more fun, better play and a bigger impact for generations to come!


Our Sponsors

Molly and Brian Auld
Blind Pass Marina
Will and Stacy Conroy
Melissa Curtiss
Logan and Natalie DeVicente
Lucas and Tara Fleming
The State of Florida
Mahaffey Foundation
Kanes Furniture
Scott and Natalie Gebicke
Johnny and Laurel Ginn

Jason and Michelle Green
Margie Green
Mike and Nicole Harris
Jeanne and Bill Heller
David and Lisa Hood
Trey and Angeline Howell
Jane Link Ferguson
John-Erik Johansson
John and Christina Kaddis
Charlie and Carey Kleinmetz
Dan and Silvia Leeper

Frank and Marthanne Gillen-LoVuolo
Tom Mahaffey
Robin and Anysia McDowall
Mitch Mortenson and Jenna Bell
Dario and Lisa Negrini
Irwin Novack
Jason Palmer
Joshua and Melissa Pinkerton
Melanie Rattanachane
Raymond James Financial

Rothman Family Foundation
Jerilyn Rush
Mel and Betty Sembler
Jan and Craig Sher
Thomas Silver
Matt and Andrea Silverman
Gene and Rose Stern
Scott Wagman and Beth Houghton
Bill and Audra Walsh
David and Rachel Wein

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