As many noted during our 60th anniversary celebration in July, it is pretty amazing to think about where the Museum has come over 60 years… from a downtown house with several rooms of exhibits to moving to our current location in 1961! During those early years, we were probably serving a couple thousand people a year at best and now the Museum campus encompasses 52 acres, 14 historic buildings, 10 contemporary buildings, a wonderful collection of native wildlife, delivers almost 2000 programs, and serves over 180,000 people in our region a year!
I sincerely doubt many of our founders 60 years ago would have ever thought that the Museum would have come so far in such a short time. It really speaks well of their vision as well as the wonderful support we have received all of these years from so many in our community and region. I sincerely hope that 60 years from today the same can be said then as well.
In conjunction with our anniversary, we have opened a new exhibit entitled “Celebrating 60 Years of Collecting: Preserving our Region’s Identity. This wonderful exhibit highlights 60 items from the Museum’s permanent collection of over 10,000 artifacts and specimens. The exhibit nicely showcases our region’s identity as well as illustrates the important role the Museum serves in saving our region’s heritage and related stories for future generations.
I hope you will visit the exhibit in our Phipps Gallery and I especially want to encourage you to see Princess Catherine Murat’s dress which is on display in the exhibit. For those that do not know, Catherine was George Washington’s great-grandniece and was married to Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Archille Murat, the Prince of Naples. We also have Catherine’s home, Bellevue, here at the Museum which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
This is the first time in almost 40 years since Catherine’s dress has been able to be displayed due to its fragile condition. However, we just recently had her dress restored and it is beautiful! Our abilities to conserve the dress would not have been possible if it were not for a sponsorship by the Fort San Luis Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in Tallahassee. For this we are so grateful and I was very honored and pleased to recognize a large contingent of members from the DAR who attended our birthday celebration (some select members are pictured on the left)!
As we continue to celebrate the Museum’s 60th anniversary, I also think it is worthy to note that the Museum would not be where it is today or where it wants to be in the future if it were not for the daily support provided by visitors, members, volunteers, donors, businesses and government. This support combined with the Museum’s commitment to meeting the interests and needs of our region, willingness to embrace change and demonstrating strong leadership has and will ensure the Museum remains relevant, effective and a mainstay of our region’s fabric and identity.
In the coming months and with your support and participation, you can expect to see the following:
- New interpretation and aesthetic improvements to our snake and reptile exhibits at the Chapin Outdoor Classroom (Fall 2017);
- New interpretive information, labels, and interactives on our Wildlife Florida Trail (Fall/Winter 2017);
- New interpretation about longleaf pine habitat and prescribed burns on our Nature Trail (Spring 2018);
- The annual Halloween Howl (Oct. 27 and 28), 25th annual Zoobilee: Denim and Diamonds (Nov. 10) and 52nd annual Market Days (Dec. 2 and 3)
Look forward to seeing you at the Museum and thank you for your interest, participation and generous support!
Russell S. Daws
Click here for a list of our 2017 past event sponsors!