South Florida Museum & Bishop Planetarium Inc
PO Box 9265
Bradenton FL 34206

To engage and inspire learners of all ages; we protect, interpret and communicate scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe.


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Brynne Anne Besio
Board Chair Mrs. Jeanie Kirkpatrick
Board Chair Affiliation Volunteer
General Info
Organization DBA
Supported Organization
Former Names
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 1954
Awarded competitive grant from Community Foundation in the last 5 years? Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes Nov 2016
State Registration Yes Nov 2019
IRS Letter of Determination
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $2,301,684.00
Projected Expenses $2,301,684.00
Other Documents
Impact Statement


  • More than 68,000 people visited the Museum in 2014. Public program attendance continues to increase with most operating at capacity. Films, science cafes, live star talks, lectures and discounted family nights provide accessible opportunities for diverse constituents. 
  • School program attendance is strong with more than 10,000 youth visiting annually for standards-based field trips.
  • During the 2014 school year, all Manatee County 4th graders had a field trip to the Museum with admission covered by a Museum donor.
  • An exhibition created by the Museum with nationally-renowned artist Clyde Butcher featuring environmental conservation themes continues to travel throughout Florida. We continue to be a Smithsonian Affiliate and meet their high standards.
  • A new Planetarium show was introduced to showcase the new state-of-the-art Planetarium projection system and continues to get rave reviews. 
  • Proud home to the oldest known manatee in the world, Snooty.  We celebrated his 67th birthday with more than 4,000 people. The beloved manatee has inspired more than one million visitors since 1949. Since joining the rehabilitation program in 1998, the Museum has cared for 30 sick, injured or orphaned manatees.
  • Our donor base continues to grow enhancing our sustainability. Our summer fundraising campaign to fund lettuce for the manatees exceeded the goal in 2015 for the fifth year in a row.



  • Continuously enhance visitor experiences and expand service to underserved communities, young children and families. Plans are in development for a new early childhood learning area which will be designed for ages 2-10.
  • Strengthen institutional capacity by diversifying revenue streams and increasing donations, memberships and attendance.
  • Contribute to manatee rehabilitation and inspire environmental stewardship.
  • Develop regional awareness of the Museum and participation in our vibrant complex for historic, cultural and scientific education and preservation.
Needs Statement
  1. $100 per day is needed to feed Snooty. Hundreds of pounds of fresh romaine lettuce is needed weekly. Snooty alone eats 70 lbs. daily and the food bill can reach $75,000 annually for three manatees.
  2. A major education need is sponsorship of Museum open houses for primary school students and their families. $3,000 covers bus transportation and educational programming for up to 250 people (donors may sponsor a specific school or have the Museum identify one). This provides access for the community and benefits students, schools and families. $500 makes it possible for one classroom to visit the Museum on a field trip.
  3. Capital upgrades to enhance ADA accessibility include automatic doors for the Planetarium ($5,000). Other needed upgrades include upgrades for the fire protection/security systems ($8,000).
  4. Funds are also needed to continue our conversion to LED light bulbs ($10,000).
  5. Upgrades to enhance audio and visual components of exhibits to augment visitors’ experiences in the Museum ($250 helps one area).
Background Statement

The South Florida Museum, which includes the Bishop Planetarium and Parker Manatee Aquarium, is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Stunning life-size dioramas and dramatic exhibits tell Florida’s story from the prehistoric to the present. The brand-new state-of-the-art Bishop Planetarium Theater accommodates diverse programs, from lectures to film series and live performances, but the main attraction is its remarkable space exploration and astronomy education resource. The Parker Manatee Aquarium is home to Manatee County’s most famous resident, “Snooty™” the manatee. Born in 1948, he is the world’s oldest known manatee and has greeted more than one million visitors since arriving in Bradenton during the 1949 DeSoto Celebration. Additionally, sick, orphaned and injured manatees are cared for as part of a collaborative rehabilitation network. The Museum is not eligible for funding from the state or federal government directly for manatee care, so this program requires help from the community to aide the recovery of this endangered species.

Founded by residents who wanted to preserve local history, the Museum was incorporated as a Florida non-profit in 1946 and opened its doors in 1947. The original collection was purchased from local amateur archaeologist Motangue Tallant in 1947 by the area Chamber of Commerce. The Tallant Collection of Florida’s First Peoples Artifacts remains a centerpiece of the Museum. The Museum’s current board includes 2nd and 3rd generation family members of some of the founders.
More than 87,000 people visited the Museum in 2013, including youth organizations and thousands of school children. The Museum’s emphasis on educating people of all ages drives its programming. In addition to teacher training and formal educational programs, a wide variety of public programs is offered including Film Fridays, “think + drink” science cafés, Family Nights, lectures and summer camps. Permanent exhibits focus on local history, Florida’s ecology, early 20th-century medical practices and Spanish exploration. Temporary exhibits are mounted in several galleries and changed regularly to provide new experiences for visitors and to highlight diverse aspects of science, history and culture. The Museum helps power the area’s economy as a tourist destination and by helping to build a more vital downtown through arts and culture programs and creative community collaborations.
Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- Manatee
FL- Sarasota
FL- Charlotte
FL- DeSoto
FL- Hardee
FL- Hillsborough
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Arts,Culture & Humanities
Secondary Org Type Animal Related
Tertiary Org Type Education
South Florida Museum, Bishop Planetarium, Parker Manatee Aquarium, Snooty, Manatee County History
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President

The South Florida Museum recently celebrated the record-breaking birthday of one of Manatee County’s most famous residents. Yes. I’m talking about our manatee Snooty, who at age 67 has been named the world’s oldest known manatee by Guinness World Records.

 We had a wonderful celebration with an estimated 4,000 guests joining us for the annual party and outdoor family festival. It was a great to see so many families and kids at the museum that day — one guest even remarked that she had never seen so many children at the Museum at one time.


 But I have. As a Board Member since 2012, I have had the great opportunity to see children enjoying the Museum all the time. In fact, did you know that the South Florida Museum has been an educational partner and resource for primary, secondary and higher education for 67 years?


 Our formal education programs — which are all standards-based for the major science and social studies content areas — are created with the input and support of educators and administrators in public and private schools. The Manatee County School District, seeing the value of our programming, has also included a field trip to the Museum in its formal curriculum for all fourth grade students. That means 3,000 fourth graders pay us a visit each year and participate in formal tours that supplement their classroom learning in the STEM fields.

 We’re also popular with home school students, providing valuable learning experiences in physics and in the Earth, space, life and environmental sciences. We offer summer camps and special family programs that meet the highest educational standards. We even serve as a continuing education resource for teachers, providing them the tools they need to teach science to their students in the classroom.


 And I’m excited to say that our programs are poised to get even better, thanks to a new program called “Pathways” that is being designed exclusively for our guests and students by our own professional education team.


 There are some 30,000 objects in the South Florida’s Museum’s permanent collections. Any single one of them has multiple interpretations related to its history, anthropology and archaeology. Right now, our curators choose the story you learn about an object and its significance in the world.


 But what if you chose what to learn? And what if your museum experience changed on every visit — if you had a different path to follow that showed you new connections among objects over space and time?


 This is what Pathways will do. And I believe it will transform every visit into a true journey through our unique and diverse collections and show students and guests of all ages how things are connected over space and time and what it means for our own human experience.


 I know that sometimes with all the excitement surrounding Snooty’s annual celebration — Snooty receives well wishes from all over the world, after all — it can be easy to forget that there’s more to the South Florida Museum than just our famous manatee.


 But we have Bishop Planetarium, which has the latest generation digital technology, making it the premier astronomy education facility, not just in the region, but in the state. And we’re the only museum on the Gulf Coast dedicated to connecting our natural and cultural heritage.


 For me, learning about Florida’s history is one of the first things that drew me in when I moved to this region from Boston in 2005. I learned so much about Florida and the history of the community that I brought my family and friends in to visit, too. And, just a few months ago, I was proud to be elected to serve as the first woman President of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.


 I’m pleased to be here at such an exciting time in the Museum’s history; we are well under way in our $12 million “Connect” fundraising campaign that will support our Pathways program and enhance our campus.

As the Museum’s President, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to connect with us. Learn more about our programs and campaign online at and please, stop in for a visit. You’ll be glad you did.

 —  Jeanie Kirkpatrick, President Board of Trustees 


Statement from the CEO/Executive Director

For more than 65 years, the South Florida Museum has been a vital educational resource and major attraction for the visitors and residents of southwest Florida and an anchor institution for the downtown Bradenton area arts and cultural community. As a private nonprofit, it is the only natural and cultural history museum on the west coast of Florida providing the opportunity for visitors to also experience a state-of-the-art planetarium as well as a rehabilitation aquarium for manatees and the oldest known manatee. With our unique resources, visitors can explore the far reaches of the universe, the natural history of our planet and its life, and the sweeping historical and cultural stories of humankind – building universal, global and local connections from our own distinctive Florida perspective. 

As one of the key cultural and arts organizations in the area, we participate in the collaborative efforts of Realize Bradenton, Inc., the cultural development movement to build and promote a vibrant downtown, and both area convention bureaus. We are in a very active period – per a strategic plan approved in 2012, plans are being developed for a new early childhood learning area, and staff are creating new, innovative ways for our audiences to experience the Museum.
The South Florida Museum is focused on bolstering lifelong learning through a variety of high-quality, innovative educational programs utilizing the themes of our exhibits and current scientific events and discoveries. Through in-house and outreach programming we provide learning opportunities that span pre-K through lifelong learning seminars for seniors. Teacher training is also an important and effective emphasis for us, but requires funding annually.
The Museum’s resident manatee, Snooty, is the oldest manatee in the world, and an exceptional ambassador for endangered species and protecting the environment. The Museum is the only Stage 2 rehabilitation facility for wild manatees on the west coast of Florida. Manatees reside in safety while they get big enough to be released back into the wild. There is very little state or federal funding for this work. Visitors learn about manatees, threats to them and how people can help this endangered species through interactive presentations.
The now state-of-the-art Planetarium Theater is the region's premier astronomy education facility with stunning new multimedia capabilities. It is also a beautiful venue for not only Planetarium shows about the universe beyond earth, but also for live star talks, films, theater and lectures. 
Description The Museum’s education programs support the teaching and learning goals of the pre-K to adult formal education community including public, private, parochial and homeschooling educators and students. All programs are standards-based, address the major science and social studies content areas (including science, technology, engineering and math - STEM), and are created with the input and support of educators and administrators in public and private schools. Guided Museum tours serve 10,000 students on field trips annually. In 2014, all Manatee County 4th graders will take a field trip to the Museum with admission covered by a private donor. Our homeschoolers program follows a three year cycle. We co-created and co-teach, with the USF Sarasota-Manatee,  a class for undergraduates training to be teachers. Summer Camps are also standards-based and provide enjoyable enrichment to the formal curricula for 2nd through 5th graders. We also offer teacher training for County science teachers. 
Budget $125,000
Category Education, General/Other Partnerships in Education
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years) Families At-Risk Populations
Short Term Success We are partners in the classroom for K-12 teachers in providing content to meet Sunshine State Standards in STEM and History to help support teaching and learning objectives and performance. Our goal is to serve as many students as possible with educational resources and experiences that are not traditionally available in the classroom. Program success in the broadest sense is in exposing learners to an expanded view of their world and their place in it. In a more formal sense, success may be measured as improved mastery of standards-based learning objectives.

With the goal of focused, standards-based education, teachers are provided with an evaluation tool, but most feedback is given at the time of contact. For on-site sessions, teachers are interviewed regarding needs and goals upon arrival and again at exit. Continued process improvement allows for feedback to be applied immediately. Additionally, we provide hands-on learning for college interns in areas including ethnographic studies, education, marine mammal care, astronomy and marketing. We compare student participation year-to-year and address factors under our control (e.g. when transportation funding was found to be an issue, we sought scholarship support).
Long Term Success If we are successful, the society of the future will embrace and understand science and history and the workforce will flourish in STEM-related studies and careers. We will continue to serve the community’s needs and remain relevant as a provider of unique, engaging educational experiences. Our formal education programs will continue to have standards-based impact on students and educators. We will maintain or enhance our ability to address 100% of science standards and 75% of social studies standards for elementary school students through the Museum’s collections as the standards change. Partnerships with school systems and youth agencies will remain strong and engage and inspire the study of STEM topics, and art and history will be more closely linked to science. Educators will have access to current science and history content to fit their curricula and engage students. Inquiry-based learning will be prevalent in the formal education system.
Program Success Monitoring For all school related programs, teachers are given pre-program information and asked to complete post-program evaluations. Teachers are interviewed about goals for their visit upon arrival and about satisfaction upon exit. We work with the county school systems to assess program needs and satisfaction. The rate of repeat participation by individual educators is indicative of success, as is the rate of student participation in spite of shrinking school budgets for enrichment activities. We regularly receive “thank-you” cards and letters made by students describing their visit to the Museum in superlatives.
Program Success Examples
Examples of success come from teachers and students. Approximately 50% of elementary age students in Manatee County visit the Museum each year, having significant impact on science and history curricula as well as specific knowledge about the history of the students’ community. The thank-you cards and letters received from students clearly show they enjoyed visiting the Museum and illustrate a specific lesson learned. The Institute for Science Teaching has served more than 1,000 teachers since it began in 2005, and has consistently been evaluated as one of the best professional development experiences available to teachers.
Our new partnership with USF Sarasota-Manatee's School of Education to develop an undergraduate curriculum validates both our approach and results. 
The new Superintendent of the Manatee County School District is very supportive of both formal and informal collaborations in place with the Museum.

The Museum focuses on bolstering lifelong learning through a variety of high-quality, affordable, innovative programs. The overall goal is to interpret Museum exhibitions for learners of all ages providing pathways for understanding universal historical, scientific and cultural concepts. Regularly-scheduled live weekend star talks and daily space-related shows are featured on the state-of-the-art Planetarium dome. Friday night Film series highlight relevant historical, scientific and cultural themes; “think + drink (science)” science cafes invite conversations with the community on diverse topics, monthly evening Stelliferous star talks and lectures are also held. Monthly Family Nights provide a variety of themed activities, and the elder community, a significant audience in our area, is served through partnerships with established lifelong learning organizations. Public programs attract new visitors and add value to memberships.

Budget $95,000
Category Science & Technology, General/Other Astronomy & Astrophysics
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Adults Families Elderly and/or Disabled
Short Term Success

Public programs highlight current issues and concepts, making sometimes complex and intimidating scientific concepts interesting and accessible to the general population. They also provide forums for exploring multiple facets of issues and cultural phenomena. They are relevant in the everyday life of community members, and provide enjoyable, active learning opportunities about topics of current interest. Family Nights showcase Museum exhibits and collections, are targeted to working families and frequently involve partner organizations. These themed programs, often produced in partnership with local visual and performing arts groups like ArtCenter Manatee, provide access to diverse audiences. The monthly “think + drink” science cafes have a loyal following and attract new attendees with diverse topics. The interactive format provides the opportunity for on-the-spot program evaluation and adjustment. Continued growth in attendance is an indicator of success.

Long Term Success

These programs foster awareness and understanding of scientific concepts and current scientific thinking, expand awareness of specific cultures, link art and science, and serve people of all ages. They also connect people to the Museum’s core mission and role in the community, which is to serve as a resource for learning and preservation. Fees are kept to a minimum to make programs and the Museum as accessible as possible to our many audiences. Program collaborations feature local artists and organizations, providing innovative and diverse experiences and expanding audiences for all participants. The “think + drink” science cafes are free of charge and engage participants in discussion with experts and among themselves, fostering comfort with complex scientific and cultural concepts.

Continued growth in attendance and sold-out programs indicate success. 
Program Success Monitoring

Program success is evaluated in several ways including attendance. These programs cover the “hard” costs of staging them (exclusive of staff time), and attract audiences not familiar with the Museum in addition to serving regular attenders. Interaction with participants is a hallmark of the Museum’s programs, providing regular opportunities for in-person satisfaction surveys and evaluation. Relevance to current societal issues is also monitored (for example, a film series highlighting the military is being presented in conjunction with the Legacy of Valor initiative in 2013). During 2013 we had sold-out crowds for multiple programs.

Program Success Examples

Audiences for the Museum’s public programs grow over time, with a cadre of regular participants for all and a consistent influx of new attendees. “Film Fridays” is an excellent example of successful program development. The series was “born” after a trial on weeknights in 2009, it was reworked for Friday nights with a lower admission fee in 2011, and as a result attendance more than doubled, providing a unique and affordable ‘date night’ in downtown Bradenton. The “think + drink (science)” series has a dedicated following, many of whom bring friends, expanding the audience in the most credible and sustainable way, word-of-mouth. Participants’ input is also solicited for topics and guest speakers. Lectures by local scientists and experts in fields related to exhibitions have been very popular. Sold-out crowds and consistently positive input from attendees are signs of the success of our programs. 


Outreach programs bring the Museum’s resources directly into the classroom, either to complement a field trip or in lieu of one if budgets or scheduling preclude it. Seven established programs serve kindergarten through 12th graders, but what is exceptional is that the Museum’s education director creates custom programs on demand to serve an individual classroom or teacher’s need. The Museum’s outreach programs are available to all schools with some support available for Title 1 schools.

Budget $15,000
Category Education, General/Other Elementary & Secondary Education
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years) At-Risk Populations General/Unspecified
Short Term Success The Museum’s outreach programs connect kids with the formal curriculum through hands-on programs and locally available resources. The number of students served by outreach programs has increased in recent years, and we plan to continue the trend. The Museum has support to serve Title 1 schools, so barriers to service have been removed. Teachers are directly involved in the development of most outreach programs and are asked to complete a post-program evaluation. The programs are designed to increase students’ understanding of topics specifically in their curriculum as well as enhance their overall understanding of natural history of the area and the specific history of their community.
Long Term Success Outreach programs will become an established part of the education landscape with the Museum as a critical resource to the formal education system. We expect financial and time budgets to continue to decline, limiting school groups to infrequent field trips. Outreach is the programmatic tool that will integrate Museum resources into the classroom in a mutually beneficial relationship. Students and teachers receive customized programs that fit seamlessly into their curricula and the Museum increases access to its resources and fulfills its mission.
Program Success Monitoring  The Museum tracks the number of programs delivered and number of students reached each year. The recent trend has been toward increased demand for outreach programs, and with financial budgets shrinking and the demand for students to spend time in the classroom increasing, we expect the need for outreach programs to continue to grow. Providing teachers with the ability to request customized programs allows the Museum to track specific systemic needs and adjust programs accordingly. Additionally, each program can be tailored to the individual class, increasing the opportunity for enhanced educational outcomes.
Program Success Examples

A recent example of the success and potential for the Museum’s Outreach Programs can be seen at Nolan Middle School. Teachers from Nolan participated in the Museum’s Institute for Science Teaching and worked with the Museum’s education director to customize a participatory lecture series for all students at the school. Nolan Middle School practices the integrated science approach, incorporating physics, chemistry, geology, biology and astronomy into the curriculum. The program is in its third year and reaches all of the school’s students. Teachers recognize that the Museum is available to provide and integrate resources and work with Museum staff to do so most beneficially for each class.

Description The Museum’s exhibitions and collections form the soul and skeleton of  our mission and allow visitors to follow Florida’s story from 4.5 billion years ago to the present, learning from the geological, fossil, archaeological, historical and environmental records. These resources form the basis of our programming. Permanent exhibitions provide a core context while several changing galleries host temporary exhibitions throughout the year so visitors can always experience something new. The East Gallery is designed to showcase multiple different exhibitions each year. Recent topics included botanical art and innovative underwater photography by Bruce Mozert, taken in the pristine waters of Blue Springs in the 1950s. Two exhibitions created at the Museum (one with National Geographic whale photographer Flip Nicklin and the other with internationally-renowned photographer by Clyde Butcher), are traveling to venues in Florida and California. Both feature environmental conservation themes.
Budget $277,000
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Archaeology
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served General/Unspecified K-12 (5-19 years) Adults
Short Term Success
The Museum’s exhibitions set the stage for the experiences visitors have. They are conducive to educational and enjoyable programs, and also invite visitors to explore and discover on their own. Temporary exhibitions broaden the scope of content, complement the permanent exhibitions and feature topics of interest that spark curiosity. Recent temporary exhibits have included “On the Rivers of Florida: Lynne Buchanan’s Photographic Meditations, “ “Adventures in Photography: Expeditions of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology,“ “Then & Now: The Changing Arctic landscape,“ “Underwater Archaeology” and “Following in the Bartrams’ Footsteps: Work from the American Society of Botanical Artists.”  The Museum venues also provide a showcase for local artists.
Long Term Success The Museum is the keeper of the community’s history, artifacts and stories. Exhibitions must be engaging and relevant to the community at all times. As technology evolves and new communication, teaching and learning tools are created, the Museum must incorporate them into its exhibitions and programs to provide enjoyable, enriching experiences. Permanent exhibits relate to the core of the Museum’s mission, and temporary exhibits allow visitors to explore related concepts on a timely basis. Temporary exhibits can attract new audiences, prompting them to discover the Museum’s treasures and role as a resource in the community. As new exhibitions are created, the Museum’s challenge is to increase interaction and engagement and make sure Museum guests can have a new experience each time they visit. Exhibitions also serve as a “draw,” helping to generate revenue for the Museum through repeat visitation and connections to the community.
Program Success Monitoring

The success of temporary exhibitions showcased in the East Gallery can be gauged by attendance at exhibition opening events. In recent times, approximately 100 guests have attended these receptions which provide an exclusive first look at the new featured experience. In conjunction with temporary exhibitions, our gift shop special orders themed items such as books, DVDs, art pieces and educational toys which are relevant to the content of the exhibition. Interest and successful sales of these items provides another indicator of exhibition success while at the same time extending the visitor’s learning and enrichment opportunities beyond the on-site visit. Another indicator of the quality of our exhibitions is what other organizations want to partner with us, such as Audubon Florida offering a lecture in conjunction with one of our exhibitions. Educational effectiveness of the permanent exhibits is assessed through our formal education programs and general visitor comments.

Program Success Examples

The permanent exhibitions and overall visitor experience are evaluated by exit comments directed toward our visitor services staff and volunteers. Regular remarks include “I needed more time,” “I can’t believe how much is here,” and “I was here years ago and can’t believe how much has changed and been added. The exhibits are very well done. The professionalism of the exhibits and experience exceeded by expectations.” The greatest testimony is the common remark that a guest “will be back” and plans to invite others to join them to enjoy the Museum. The annual “secret shopper” report provided through the Florida Attractions Assoc. is reviewed by the management team and adjustments made as needed and feasible. These reports consistently offer very high scores, commonly 99/100. To track overall response, social media comments are monitored to review unsolicited—as well as prompted—feedback from our audiences. We consistently receive strong positive comments on TripAdvisor.

Description Snooty, the oldest known manatee, has called the Museum home since 1949, and since 1998 the Museum has participated in the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership, caring for sick, orphaned and injured manatees and helping people get “up close” to manatees. As a 2nd stage rehabilitation facility, manatees are transferred to the Museum from a critical care hospital once their condition is stable. Although the program contributes to the recovery of an endangered species, the Museum is not eligible for funding from the state or federal government directly for manatee care, so this program requires significant private support. Since joining the rehabilitation program in 1998, the Museum has cared for 30 injured or sick manatees.  Presentations by the animal care team, exhibits, educational tours and outreach programs educate the public and school children about environmental issues and manatees.
Budget $278,000
Category Animal-Related, General/Other Marine Animals Preservation & Protection
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served General/Unspecified Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Adults
Short Term Success In the short-term, the Museum provides a caring home for manatees until they are ready to be returned to the wild. Goals are set for each individual based on need and can include weight/size increase, specific eating habits, swimming ability, or the start or end of a behavior. Our participation in the program makes space available for newly injured animals at the three acute care hospitals in the state. Brandee, a young female who spent 17 months recovering at the Museum, was released in January and successfully reacclimated to the wild. Although she lost her satellite-linked tag, researchers were able to monitor her for the necessary period and declared it a successful release.
Long Term Success The goals of the program are to aide the recovery of the endangered species and to educate Museum visitors about environmental issues and threats to manatees. The ultimate changes will be increasing manatee populations in the state and decreasing human-related threats to Florida manatees. Success is evaluated in cooperation with other members of the consortium including state and federal wildlife officials, scientists and educators. The partnership has created a plan for determining the successful reacclimation of manatees to the wild following rehabilitation and is adjusted each year depending on success rates and the needs of the current population undergoing rehabilitation. Brandee, a young female who spent 17 months recovering at the Museum, was released in January and successfully reacclimated to the wild. Although she lost her satellite-linked tag, researchers were able to monitor her for the necessary period and declared it a successful release. 
Program Success Monitoring Success of the manatee rehabilitation program is measured in several ways. The primary goal for young manatees is to gain weight and remain healthy while at the Museum. Their physical health and behavior are closely monitored and the status of each manatee is reviewed by the experts within the Partnership on a regular basis. Manatees undergoing rehabilitation do not form a relationship with the animal care staff so they are not attracted to people after release back to the wild. The primary environmental education goal is to reach as many of the Museum’s more than 70,000 annual visitors with information about the conservation status and needs of manatees.
Program Success Examples The Manatee Rehabilitation Program affects both manatees and people. We have successfully cared for 26 manatees undergoing rehabilitation. By housing manatees in preparation for release at the Museum and other secondary care facilities, space is opened at the critical care hospitals, maximizing the number of endangered manatees that can be helped. Tens of thousands of people, including school groups, see the manatees at the Museum each year, and most hear an educational presentation about manatee biology and human-related threats. The annual Wildlife Festival held in honor of Snooty’s birthday is an example of the wide reach of this program. Thousands of people visit that day to see the manatees and learn about local wildlife. Snooty receives birthday cards from children around the country in addition to Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Visitors frequently say it’s the first time they’ve seen a manatee up close, a hallmark of experiential learning.
Program Comments by Organization


Our mission calls for us to address varied educational activities from lectures and discussions to a wide variety of exhibitions to meet different interests and needs within the community. We are able to collaborate with many organizations from arts to history to science groups in addition to formal education structures. Our limitations are really only defined by the staff time and resources available.

The Museum can be a “one-stop shopping” venue for school field trips about science, history and environmental studies.  All programs, both on-site and in the community, are standards-based, address the Florida Standards for the major science and social studies content areas (including science, technology, engineering and math - STEM), and are created with the input and support of educators and administrators in public and private schools.  Students  can visit the Museum and see a cross section of Florida’s ecosystems and learn key points in the state’s history. We also provide outreach programs to area schools (including in other counties).  During the 2014-15 school year, all Manatee County 4th graders will make a mandatory field trip to the Museum (the Museum is providing admission scholarships thanks to a private donor).


Our collaborations are both important to and reflective of our program successes.  One example is a partnership with USF Sarasota-Manatee:  we co-developed the undergraduate course “Teaching Elementary Science,” which is taught at the Museum and integrates teaching strategies with science content using the Museum’s collections and exhibitions as a primary resource.


We joined forces Realize Bradenton in 2014 for a series of evening programs called “Music & Movies” that featured live musical performances followed by films about musicians.  During the special exhibition “Coffee: the World in Your Cup,” several programs featured coffee culture and even a theatrical performance.

Our public programs double as marketing tools and our audiences are growing steadily. We partner with several media outlets to expand awareness of the Museum and participation in programs. This is critical to the delivery of our mission as well as our financial sustainability. Overall, the staff is creating innovative new ways for guests to experience the Museum.


Program Comments by Foundation
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Brynne Anne Besio
CEO Term Start Oct 2007
CEO/Executive Director Email

Brynne Anne Besio holds a M.S. in Geology from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a B.S .in Geology from the University of California at Davis. She has 25 years of nonprofit management experience including four Girl Scout councils (Denver, Philadelphia area and Sarasota) and the Puget Sound Blood Center, nine years as a geologist first for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and for Amoco Production Company in Denver, Colorado. Ms. Besio currently sits on the board of the Florida Association of Museums, Science and Environmental Council of  Southwest Florida and was integrally involved in the founding of Realize Bradenton, Inc.

Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Dr. Peter Bennett 1998 - 2003
Mr. John Howard 2003 - 2006
Senior Staff
Mr. Jack Balkan Facilities Director
Ms. Marilyn Margold Director of Living Collections and Aquarium
Mr. Jeff Rodgers Director of Education and Planetarium
Ms. Martha Wells Development Director
Mr. Matthew Woodside Director of Exhibitions and Collections
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 16
Part Time Staff 14
Staff Retention Rate % 87
Professional Development Yes
Contractors 5
Volunteers 150
Management Reports to Board Yes
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes

Collaborations are a priority for the Museum for many reasons. They allow us to extend our reach both geographically and to different types of audiences as well as strengthen our community service and ties. Also, the integration of art and science is key to our educational philosophy.

We regularly partner with colleges, schools, arts organizations and other informal learning institutions and participate in community projects. Each of the Museum’s main centers of operations (the Planetarium, Aquarium, exhibitions and education department) is actively involved in multiple collaborations. Current collaborations include participation in Realize Bradenton, the Science and Environmental Council of Southwest Florida, Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Sarasota Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Cosmix with the Ringling College of Art and Design and a new course developed for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Education School. Current and recent collaborators include Village of the Arts, Manatee Players, ArtCenter Manatee, Manatee County School District, Manatee County, Sarasota County School District, State College of Florida, New College, USF’s Lifelong Learning Academy, The Pierian Springs Academy, Longboat Key Education Center, Asolo Repertory Theatre and Sarasota Orchestra.
American Association of Museums - Member
American Association of Science and Technology Centers
American Association of State and Local History
Florida Association of Museums
Florida Attraction Association
Manatee Rehabilitation Network
Science and Environmental Council of Sarasota County
Smithsonian Museum - Affiliate
External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
Nonprofit of the Year Award Winner, Humanities & CultureTampa Bay Business Journal2014
Finalist, Nonprofit of the Year in Arts, Humanities & CultureTampa Bay Business Journal2015
Risk Management Provisions
Accident and Injury Coverage
Boiler and Machinery
Business Income
Commercial General Liability
Crime Coverage
Workers Compensation and Employers' Liability
Umbrella or Excess Insurance
Directors and Officers Policy
Medical Health Insurance
Liquor Liability
Fine Arts and Collectibles
General Property Coverage
Automobile Insurance
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government Yes
Fundraising Plan No
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan Yes
Strategic Plan Years 3
Strategic Plan Adopted June 2012
Management Succession Plan No
Continuity of Operations Plan No
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Policies and Procedures Yes
Management Comments by Organization

We are honored to have been recognized as the "2014 Arts, Culture and Humanities Nonprofit of the Year" by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

We enjoy a good situation:  good financial health and being in the process of planning for the next 10-20 years. We are evaluating the community’s needs and how our mission can best address them. A clear priority is a new early childhood learning area, which we will approach in a truly unique way. Staff are creating new ways for our audiences to experience the Museum as well as ways to serve new audiences.

Our greatest challenge is to grow and improve while maintaining our current high quality of visitor and program experience, all with only 16 full-time staff members.

We were very fortunate to be able to replace the Planetarium projection system with state-of-the art technology in October of 2013. This is the first of the new experiences for our guests and it allows us to create a whole new suite of engaging education programs. About 25% of visitors come for an experience in the Planetarium, and the new system greatly expands program options in the star theater.

The need for significant capital investment in the facility remains for items including HVAC controls, enhanced security systems, climate controlled areas for the collections, updating of the Aquarium’s life support systems and other non-glamorous areas of our operations.

We celebrated Snooty the manatee’s 66thbirthday in July, and as the oldest known manatee, he continues to make history every day. He has hosted 28 manatees undergoing rehabilitation, and food, medical care and pool maintenance are significant ongoing costs.

The Museum presents several different special exhibitions each year, providing the opportunity for something new each time a person visits. Our attendance has been consistent in recent years and in order to grow, we need to invest more in promoting the Museum. When people visit for the first time, we frequently hear something like “I wish I’d known about you sooner – this place is wonderful.”  We have several successful media partnerships, but we need to invest more to get more exposure.

We are planning a major “refresh” for the natural and cultural history exhibits. Studies show that visitors are looking for experiential opportunities when they visit museums and this provides us with the opportunity to integrate technology and hands-on components. We have already begun to test one new experience and will begin formal development on a larger scale soon.

Management Comments by Foundation
Planning & Policies Comments by Organization
Planning & Policies Comments by Foundation
Multi-Media Comments by Organization The Snooty Cam on our website is always very popular
Board Chair
Board Chair Mrs. Jeanie Kirkpatrick
Company Affiliation Volunteer
Board Term Apr 2015 to Mar 2017
Board Chair Email
Board Members
Board Members
Ms. Jackie Barron Mosaic
Mr. William M. Blalock Wyman, Green and Blalock Real Estate
Mr. Gary Bogart Jake's Automotive
Mr Tom Breiter Breiter Capital Management
Commisioner Larry Bustle Manatee County
Mr. Brian Carter Mauldin & Jenkins
Mr. Charles Elzer Merrill Lynch
Col. James A. Fraley Jr.Retired
Mrs. Debbie Gigliotti Community Volunteer
Ms. Jeanie Kirkpatrick Community Volunteer
Mr. Bruce Langsen Community Volunteer
Mrs. Ricki Lindsay Community Volunteer
Mr. Lynn Lineman Community Bank
Dr. Michael Mackie Eye Center, Inc.
Mrs. Johncyna McRae Community Volunteer
Mr. Christopher Peacock Fifth Third Bank
Mr. Stephen Perry Blalock Walters
Mrs. Carol Rice Rice Appliance
Mr. Chris Romine Northern Trust
Mr. James P. Roque SunTrust Private Wealth
Mr. James K. Toomey Toomey Foundation for the Natural Sciences
Ms. Alisa Westberry BMO Harris Bank
Student serving on the board through Community Youth Development? No
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 20
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 1
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 15
Female 7
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Orientation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Board Meeting Attendance % 71
Board Self-Evaluation Yes
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Board Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 16
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Governance Comments by Organization

The South Florida Museum Board continues to evolve. The Board made a paradigm shift in 2010 to move from a monthly working executive committee and large ratifying board of directors of more than 55 members to a full working Board of 25 members working in committees with the Executive Committee meeting as-needed. Term limits for both Board members and officers are in place and the Board operates with a consent agenda at full Board meetings. The Governance Committee is assessing the needs of the Museum and Board and working to identify candidates who match our needs and build Board selection criteria to take the Museum into the future.

Fiscal stability is a major priority for our Board and the Museum has no debt. With the disbursement from the endowment plus admissions covering about half of the operating revenue, the rest of the funds are raised. We are working to build contributions to the endowment as a safety net for sustainability in addition to enhancing our fundraising abilities for ongoing operations.

The Board adopted a comprehensive Development Plan in 2010 and the Development Committee is currently updating it for Board review. Priorities and processes in the plan remain sound, so while it was adopted for a specific time period, it remains sound today. The Development Officer hired in 2011 through a grant has been moved into the operating budget so the Development Director position is now part of our culture. Since 2010, we have increased the number of donors by more than 80% and more than doubled our major gift donors.

The Board has identified key areas to achieve to build capacity as an institution:

  • Generate more revenue in all areas (admissions, programs, donations, potential public/private partnerships).
  • Meet community need now and evolve to be able to do so in the future.
  • Provide relevant, cutting-edge and experiential educational programs and exhibitions to engage visitors of all ages.

The Governance Committee is looking at a succession plan.

Governance Comments by Foundation
Fiscal Year Projections
Fiscal Year Begins 2015
Fiscal Year Ends 2015
Projected Revenue $2,301,684.00
Projected Expenses $2,301,684.00
Endowment Value $14,274,968.00
Endowment Spending Policy Income Only
Endowment Spending Policy %
Capital Campaign
In a Capital Campaign Yes
Campaign Purpose The Campaign funds our Master Campus and Programming Plan to be a leader in the museum field. The first priorities include two new spaces, renovating exhibitions, upgrades to the Aquarium and Planetarium, and piloting the innovative Pathways program.
Campaign Goal $12,000,000.00
Campaign Dates Jan 2015 to June 2016
Amount Raised To Date 10967763 as of Oct 2015
Anticipate Campaign within 5 years? Yes
Audit/Financial Documents
Historical Financial Review
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201420132012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$130,741$57,726$30,000
Individual Contributions$5,656,983$3,034,956$2,199,312
Investment Income, Net of Losses$15,849$11,654$7,604
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$123,038$136,295$153,453
Revenue In-Kind$104,914$73,677$83,609
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201420132012
Program Expense$2,348,203$2,117,461$1,798,595
Administration Expense$193,653$224,709$233,592
Fundraising Expense$255,433$165,169$155,053
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses2.581.681.57
Program Expense/Total Expenses84%84%82%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue4%5%6%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201420132012
Total Assets$32,404,499$27,804,661$25,410,325
Current Assets$20,621,866$18,276,183$16,304,043
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$152,026$212,585$62,813
Total Net Assets$32,252,473$27,592,076$25,347,512
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201420132012
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $5,656,983Contributions, gifts, grants $3,034,956Contributions, gifts, grants $2,199,312
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountAdmissions $555,762Admissions $430,920Related organizations $431,223
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountFoundation & Corporate Support $409,149Related Organizations $411,681Admissions $364,018
CEO/Executive Director Compensation $100,001 - $125,000
Co-CEO/Executive Director Compensation
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities135.6585.97259.56
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization Building and maintaining multiple revenue streams is our ongoing challenge and opportunity. The Board and staff continue to build the culture of fundraising, focusing on where the most impact can be made, currently individual contributions. The Development Plan under which we are operating makes donor retention a high priority. Staff are building an engaging environment of intrigue and interest by enhancing our exhibits and creating programs to appeal to diverse audiences. With a small marketing budget, our programs and exhibits help us market the Museum. We partner with varied organizations to extend our reach. While the Board has set aside funds for capital projects, we have ongoing need to raise more capital funds for large scale facility upgrades such as HVAC systems to increase efficiency and new security and fire protection enhancements. We are also in the final stage of our Connect Capital Campaign.
Financial Comments by Foundation
Financial figures provided based on IRS Form 990 and audit documents. 990s and audits reconcile. Individual contributions and foundation/ corporate support provided by agency.
Nonprofit South Florida Museum & Bishop Planetarium Inc
Address PO Box 9265
Bradenton, FL 34206
Phone 941 746-4131

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