Museum History

Museum downtown-1958In 1957, a group of teachers, several civic groups and other interested members of the community  established the Tallahassee Junior Museum to offer school children enriching experiences with science, art, history, and world cultures. In the 1960s, it moved to its present location on a chain of lakes. By 1980, the Museum exhibits included a collection of restored historical buildings, and by 1990 its Wildlife Florida Trail of native wildlife featured Florida panthers and endangered red wolves.

Regional growth and the strengths of its collection led the Museum to revise its mission and focus on the region’s natural environment and cultural history. It dedicated itself to increased professionalism and in 1985 received AAM accreditation (renewed 1998, 2009, 2022). A 1989 capital campaign raised over one million dollars to add a visitor center, improved parking, renovated exhibition spaces, café, enhanced visitor amenities and offices, and to expand the potential for hosting significant traveling exhibits.  In 1992, the Museum changed its name from the Tallahassee Junior Museum and in 2005 the Museum officially began doing business as the “Tallahassee Museum.”

In 2013, the Museum added digital access to its collections through its website. A new interpretive plan, adopted in 2012 and initiated in 2013, guides the Museum in remaining relevant to its growing community. The addition of the Tallahassee Tree-to-Tree Adventures courses, Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs, an outdoor sculpture exhibit featuring the largest collection of works by Jim Gary, and improvements to the Visitor Center entrance and the Florida Wildlife Trail are only the first results of the new interpretive approach. The community takes pride in its Museum, one of the few in the nation that combines historical buildings with a living display of native animals in a biologically beautiful and diverse setting.