GAINESVILLE, Fla. — State budget cuts are forcing the Florida Museum of Natural History to close its popular Discovery Room, a hands-on family activity area, Sept. 1.

The Discovery Room is a multi-generational activity space where children and adults can learn about Florida’s natural habitats through games, books and interactive displays. Originally scheduled to remain open through the end of the year, the state reductions prevent the Florida Museum from meeting staff and material requirements for the exhibit.

“The University of Florida mandated a 6 percent cut in the Florida Museum’s overall budget for the 2008-09 year,” said Doug Noble, the museum’s Head of Exhibits and Public Programs. “In addition, the state’s Division of Cultural Affairs reduced the funds available through its Cultural Institutions Program by 63 percent. Combined, these cuts translated into a loss of $236,308 in support for exhibits and public programs and also forced the Florida Museum to eliminate six positions.”

Florida Museum Education Program Director Jamie Creola said funding for the Discovery Room pays for staffing and supplies, and to replace damaged or old exhibit components.

“Without monetary support, we cannot maintain a quality experience for families and children in the Discovery Room,” Creola said. “The exhibit has been a summer mainstay at the Museum in past years and is scheduled to open again in June 2009 for the summer only.”

The Discovery Room is open 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 1 – 4:30 p.m. Sunday through Aug. 17. Beginning Aug. 18, Discovery Room hours are 12 to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 – 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

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Writer: Kelly Donovan
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,