School’s back in session and Labor Day is on the horizon, which can only mean one thing here in South Florida: The busy snowbird season will be here before we know it. Cars with out-of-state license plates will return to our streets, and restaurant reservations will be harder to get than Inter Miami tickets.
But for now there’s a lull, giving residents time to take advantage of Broward Attractions & Museums Month —BAMM for short — which offers deals on admission to 20 cultural, educational and historical experiences throughout the county from Sept. 1 to 30.
How BAMM began
BAMM got its start in June 2008, “when several museums and attractions came together to promote their organizations to the local community, based on a similar program in Miami-Dade,” said Keith Clark, CEO of Flamingo Gardens in Davie.
For years, the program dwindled after its organizer, Mary Birch-Hanson, left her position as membership coordinator at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in Clewiston, he said.
“In 2014, I hired (Birch-Hanson) to be director of education at Flamingo Gardens, and she encouraged me to revise BAMM,” Clark said. “Several attractions and museums got together in 2017 to revitalize the program as a Buy-One-Get-One free promotion in September, and I have been organizing it annually since.”
Making an impact
So why did they choose September to offer the promotion?
Because it’s the slowest month for almost all museums and attractions in South Florida, making BAMM an “incentive for local residents to get out and explore their own backyards while helping to increase foot traffic at our institutions during the slow time of year,” Clark said.
The organizations offering BOGO admission get an opportunity to increase revenue during September, while those with free admission get a bump in attendance and, hopefully, donations, he said.
The program has gradually expanded from 16 participants six years ago to 20 this year.
The historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale has been involved in the promotion since its inception.
“As a not-for-profit, Bonnet House has a limited marketing budget. BAMM provides a great way for us to just get our name and logo in front of lots of eyes,” CEO Patrick Shavloske said. “Sometimes it only takes that to make someone think, ‘Bonnet House … I’ve always wanted to go there, but never have.’ With just that, BAMM can be a success.”
The Museum of Discovery and Science, also in Fort Lauderdale, joined the BAMM lineup in 2019, a collaboration that CEO Joseph P. Cox said “fosters a sense of camaraderie within the cultural community.”
“Participating in such a collective event helps the museum to engage with the local community on a larger scale,” he said. “It encourages people who might not have visited MODS before to explore its offerings and learn about its educational programs and encourages guests to explore a variety of cultural and educational sites, which in turn can boost the local economy.”
What’s new to check out
At Flamingo Gardens, “you’ll want to explore our new Butterfly Conservatory, where we raise native butterflies with their native host plants to release into the gardens and help reestablish native butterfly populations,” Clark said.
Don’t worry about breaking a sweat while at the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. Air conditioning has been installed in the last of its exhibit rooms that did not have climate control.
“The Studio is the jewel at Bonnet House,” Shavloske said. “You’re surrounded by Frederic Bartlett’s artwork (and) learn that he was also an art collector and that his love of art by other artists inspired his own work.”
This summer, the Museum of Discovery and Science opened a new permanent exhibit, “Discovery Spot,” a 4,000-square-foot space that allows young scientists (up to age 6) and their families to explore the wonders of Florida ecosystems, from ocean to air, as well as a citrus grove and the Everglades, Cox said.
“These areas introduce science concepts through hands-on interactives and role-playing opportunities while allowing guests to splash, climb, tinker and explore,” he said.
A “Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails” exhibit, expected to open Sept. 15, will use playful learning experiences to foster STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) literacy.
At History Fort Lauderdale, executive director Patricia Zeiler said visitors must see the mustache cup in the Pioneer House Museum. It was designed with a guard to protect a man’s handlebar mustache while sipping hot tea or coffee. She also recommends looking for the 1899 McGuffey’s Readers in the Schoolhouse Museum, the Marlins World Series trophy, and a football signed by every player on the 1972 Miami Dolphins undefeated team.
BAMM offers something of interest for everyone, Clark said: “I’m sure there are two or three places on the list that you’ve never visited. Get out and explore the cultural treasures in your own backyard.”
How to get the deal
Mention “BAMM” at the facility’s ticket booth or use promo code “BAMM” for locations that require online reservations. Before making your visit, check each attraction’s website or call for information.