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Photo by Andy Armano |

A Holiday from the Ordinary (December)

By John M. Hayden

LED Christmas trees blinking in time with “Jingle Bells.” Mega-Menorahs on well-manicured lawns. Traffic jams by the malls. Yes, the holidays are in full effect. While most of the country is indoors to stay out of the cold, we still duck inside to get a break from the heat. One place to stay cool and have a cool time is the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Joseph P. Cox, the President/CEO of MODS, is excited for the season both personally and professionally. He took some time to tell OutClique what he’s most excited about and what MODS will use to keep us cool during the warm December days.

Like so many people in Florida, he loves discovering what the area offers in December and creating his own routines. “Spending the holidays in a tropical climate always reminds me of how lucky we are to live in South Florida.” And he tries to bring that experience inside the Museum. “We bring the science and the spirit of the winter holidays, no matter which one your family celebrates, to MODS with family experiences, interactive and charming activities like snow in our bus loop and holiday slime, and we provide the perfect photo opportunities to remember the day. Let it snow south Florida-style at MODS!”

For Joe and his team, that means coming up with engaging activities for natives, transplants, and snowbirds. “We look forward to welcoming both local residents and visitors who come to South Florida for the holidays. We are eager to share with them our array of engaging holiday programming including the North Pole Pajama Party!” With attractions like this, it’s clear MODS isn’t your average or traditional museum. It turns out there’s plenty more for the community to get on board with. “For the second year in a row, MODS has partnered with Rail Events and Brightline to bring The Polar Express Train Ride to South Florida.”

Photo by Andy Armano |

As sure as radios blare Christmas music and people wear ugly sweaters to the beach, there will be classic holiday movies. Joe’s taking that tradition and bringing it to the biggest of big screens. “MODS also will feature screenings of the classic holiday film, The Polar Express, on our giant IMAX® screen.” He added, “When you’re thinking of holiday gifts, consider the gift of a MODS membership to experience the Museum all year long.”

When the holidays come to a close, New Year’s Eve will arrive 12 hours early at MODS. “Join us to ring in the New Year with a special Noon Year’s Eve program for families. MODS is a great place for family time. A popular family hangout is in our newest exhibit, the remastered and expanded To Fly Exhibition Hall and state-of-the-art makerspace, The Leighton Family Hangar. The Hangar fosters innovative hands-on experiences in a unique blending of high-tech and low-tech to make for a memorable visit this holiday season,” Cox continued.

 “The makerspace fosters the development of new skills, where visitors are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and tinker. It is a fusion of a science lab, engineering workshop, innovation workshop, and art room and is designed to be flexible to accommodate a wide range of collaborative activities, from robotics and electronics to sewing and 3D printing. It’s all happening at MODS.”

Even though we’re still a few days away from ringing in 2020, Joe told us that he’s already got big things virtually lined up for the new year. “Entering the year 2020 feels like we are arriving at a major collective milestone. The future is actually here, and MODS is poised and ready. We are leading MODS into the future by featuring mixed reality, or ‘XR’ (augmented reality, virtual reality, spatial computing), a leading-edge makerspace and infusing 21st-century skills such as collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking to help prepare South Florida’s future workforce. MODS has an opportunity to support workforce development through this technology.”

Joe’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community also will continue in the new year. In 2019, the Museum held its first Pride Day. The MODS team plans to build on that success. “With more than 2,000 attendees, MODS’ first Pride Day was exhilarating and inspirational.” That community support makes it even more imperative in the future. “The support we received from our community, partners, friends, and staff reinforces our important work. Inclusivity at MODS represents a true cultural openness where we celebrate and embrace our diverse community. The Museum’s doors are open to everyone, including all family structures, ethnicities, physical and emotional disabilities, and all education, social, and economic levels. Everyone is welcome at MODS.”

Photo by Andy Armano |

Though Pride is still months away, Joe makes sure it’s an attitude that exists more than one day or one month each year. “We stand at the forefront of diversity, creating specific inclusive programming, an all gender restroom to ensure all guests are comfortable, staff training, and the establishment of our LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of more than 18 community members, from leaders of corporations to LGBTQ+ media outlets who come together to plan and support future programs at MODS. This inclusion initiative is funded in part by a generous grant from the Community Foundation of Broward. We are actively planning next year’s Pride Day at MODS, and we encourage and welcome the community to get involved and attend!”

Joe mentioned the AutoNation® IMAX® Theater is showing a holiday favorite this month, but in the new year, the screen will go retro, as in prehistoric. “As the first original large-format dinosaur film in more than a decade, Dinosaurs of Antarctica in IMAX® promises to be epic. With an early 2020 premiere, viewers will explore these prehistoric creatures through next-level computer-generated imagery (CGI) on the largest IMAX® screen in South Florida. Visitors to MODS can then step into the sand-covered shoes of a paleontologist at our Expedition: Dinosaur! exhibit.”

Joe says he’s looking forward to a bustling holiday season and an even busier future in 2020 and beyond for MODS and South Florida. “The Museum has played such an important role in our community for many years, and its future potential is beyond measure and very exciting.”

About the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS)
Founded in 1976 as the Discovery Center, today MODS is at the forefront of science education, innovation, and exploration. The Museum showcases more than 300 interactive exhibits, immersive films, and experiential programs. With a designated STEM Center and new aviation-themed makerspace, The Leighton Family Hangar, MODS is committed to engaging, enriching, and inspiring tomorrow’s workforce – today. The Museum celebrates diversity and welcomes more than 400,000 visitors annually from all walks of life. MODS is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving, one day in the spring for its Annual Wine, Spirits, and Culinary Celebration (March 13, 2020), and one day in the fall for the Annual Gala (October 2020). Hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00AM to 5:00PM, and Sunday from noon to 5:00PM. MODS is located downtown at 401 SW Second Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. For more information about the Museum, please call (954) 467-MODS (6637) or visit