A museum opening in Cocoa Beach could give tourists a more ancient reason to visits.
Steve and Donna Cayer have operated The Dinosaur Store in Cocoa Beach since 1995 and in a few months, they will reach a goal they have though about for years, Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports.
The Cayers are opening a two-story museum they expect will draw about 100,000 tourists and local residents a year, giving the Space Coast a new attraction.
The Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures is under construction on the second and third floors above their storefront retail shop, just two blocks from the beach on State Road 520.
Tourism officials who got a sneak peak of the museum under construction a few days ago say they’re excited about its planned opening, and compare it to venues that generally would be found only in much-larger communities.
Beachside hotel owner Bob Baugher of Cocoa Beach, who has followed the Cayers’ progress for the last four years, expects cruise lines to add the museum to their list of shore excursions when their ships make port-of-call stops at Port Canaveral. There will be so much to see, Baugher said, you can easily spend a half-day at the museum.
Steve Cayer said the second floor will showcase dinosaurs, with about 25 percent of the exhibits consisting of authentic bones and eggs, and the rest fossil replicas. Some of the dinosaur replicas will be have animatronic features. The third floor will focus on ancient African, Chinese, Egyptian, Inca and Mayan cultures, with about half the pieces authentic.
Their existing first-floor Adventure Zone, attached to the retail store, will remain open, and includes displays of live alligators, snakes and other creatures.
Cayer said the building and the store inventory are valued at about $4 million, with the construction build-out of the museum on the second and third floors costing an additional $750,000.
The museum will include about $1.5 million worth of dinosaur-related artifacts and $1 million worth of other artifacts from the ancient cultures, as well as elaborate dioramas to house the displays.
Their most valuable piece: an Egyptian sarcophagus dating back to 800 B.C., and valued at $150,000 to $175,000. Cayer said he acquired the 5-foot-8-inch-tall artifact from a private collector in Colorado, who previously had bought it from a museum in Switzerland.