Big Night for the Science Museum

John and Heidi Niblack

John and Heidi Niblack

PALM BEACH, Fla.– The South Florida Science Museum welcomed five former NASA astronauts and made a couple of major announcements at its annual gala.

The museum is changing its name to the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, and it’s receiving a $900,000 grant from the Quantum Foundation, which will enable the museum to pursue additional exhibits.

Pandora and Robert Crippen

Pandora and Robert Crippen

“We are a high touch, interactive center and we wanted a name to reflect that,” said museum CEO Lew Crampton.

The museum spent the past year and $5 million to expand, from 20,000 square feet to 30,000, including tripling the aquarium space. The new name will be officially unveiled June 7, 2013, when the museum opens for a free community day.

The gala, “Out of This World – An Evening Honoring America’s Space Pioneers,” featured a moderated discussion highlighting the achievements of astronauts Scott Carpenter, Robert Crippen, Charles Duke, Edgar Mitchell and David Scott.

Led by CNN space correspondent John Zarrella, and with an authentic Mercury space capsule as their backdrop, the astronauts shared tales of walking on the moon, hitting a golf ball in space, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean and other first-hand accounts of their careers.

Matt and Helene Lorentzen

Matt and Helene Lorentzen

The gala, April 5, 2013, also included a cocktail reception and dinner. It was chaired by Elizabeth and Benjamin Gordon. The host committee included Howard Cox, Elizabeth and Matthew Fifield, Allison and Stuart Haft, Afsy and Dr. Carter Pottash, and Karly and Heath Randolph.

Frances and Jeffrey Fisher, Helene and Matthew Lorentzen and Heidi and John Niblack served as the event’s honorary chairmen and stewardship council chairmen were Dale Hedrick and Harvey Oyer.

Click photos below to enlarge.

Grand benefactors were Kathleen and Lewis Crampton, Frances and Jeffrey Fisher, Mary Hulitar, Helene and Matthew Lorentzen, and Heidi and John Niblack. The gala’s grand corporate sponsor was PNC Wealth Management. Betteridge Jewelers and Neiman Marcus, Palm Beach were constellation sponsors.

For more information, call (561) 832-1988 or visit

Photos by Lucien Capehart Photography.


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