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A New Permanent Exhibit at the Museum of Florida History
In 2013, Florida will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the landing of Juan Ponce de León on Florida shores in 1513. This milestone event marked the beginning of the European, initially Spanish, and African presence in Florida and in the United States. The Museum of Florida History opened a major permanent exhibit on March 3, 2012, as part of the statewide effort to highlight 500 years of Florida history.
The story begins with Native Americans who were here in 1513. Several hundred thousand to perhaps one million people were in Florida. The portion of the exhibit called "Land of Many Cultures" highlights the diverse cultures of native groups including the Timucua, Apalachee, and Calusa Indians. Visitors will learn that, although these native peoples shared important cultural traits, there were many differences as well. Visitors can view a recreated native dwelling in this portion of the exhibit.
In "Spanish Exploration," visitors can walk on a dock and be part of a scene reminiscent of the loading of a ship traveling to La Florida. The pier leads to a reproduced portion of a Spanish ship, where visitors can learn about navigation and life at sea.
The exhibit features a third section called "Meeting of the Cultures." Museum goers will view life-size figures representing diverse people who experienced 16th-century Florida. Maps show locations of settlements in La Florida and trace routes of the explorers. Artifacts lend evidence of 16th century European presence in Florida.
In addition to text panels, murals, recreated settings, and three-dimensional objects and artifacts, the exhibit features many interactive and hands-on activities. These components will assist visitors of all ages to better understand the colonial history of Florida.
The Museum will extend the exhibit in future phases, eventually bringing the story up to 1821. Subjects to be featured during the continuation of the project include settlements, missions, and forts, the British period, and second Spanish period. For further information see http://www.museumoffloridahistory.com/foreverchanged