TAMPA - It's one of the largest science museums in the country, but a new audit says the Museum of Science and Industry faces numerous problems, including failing to properly maintain its facilities.
The problems started to become evident when the health department shut down MOSI’s restaurant four months ago.
A new report and our own investigation showed that was far from the only issue
More than half a million people learn and play at MOSI each year.
“We love MOSI,” said Lucienne Driver, who went to the museum Friday with her family.
A recent audit says the facility suffers from "general neglect" in which exhibits are often not functioning or "closed for repairs." Equipment is in "need of cleaning or replacement."
“Our business is taking care of this place 365 days a year. To keep it clean, safe and beautiful,” said Wit Ostrenko, MOSI’s longtime CEO.
But when the I-Team visited MOSI with a hidden camera, that wasn't necessarily the case.
Sharp edges surrounded the dashboard of a fire truck, where knobs and gauges had been removed.
Exposed electrical wiring, extension cords and uncovered outlets were within easy reach of children.
Glass globes sat unguarded on tables and a handrail was held together with electrical tape.
“We have a system in place for every one of those things. We call our guest services operations person and those things get taken care of,” Ostrenko said.
Other issues at MOSI included a failed health inspection in March at the MOSI Cafe after rodent droppings were found there.
There was also a failed fire inspection the month before after inspectors found issues involving fire extinguishers, a blocked fire exit and non-functioning exit lights.
“You've got to keep up with it or else it starts falling behind. Everything starts piling up. I think that's kind of what's happened,” said MOSI visitor Leda Eaton.
Ostrenko said the issues we found have all been corrected, as well as the fire inspection violations.
He said the cafe will soon reopen with a new vendor, and his staff will begin implementing dozens of recommendations in the audit.
“You can't argue with best practices in the field. We embrace them. We're gonna own those recommendations,” Ostrenko said.
Regular visitors say the sooner those improvements come the better.
“Anything that keeps them running and keeps it for us is a good thing,” said Driver.
MOSI receives more than a $500,000 and other benefits from Hillsborough County taxpayers each year.
County Commissioner Les Miller said he plans to meet regularly with MOSI officials in the coming months to make sure they resolve the issues brought to light in the audit.