A map of Florida on the floor acts like a compass needle, pointing to a moment frozen in time: artifacts from different parts of the state depict Florida’s Hispanic legacy in pottery fragments, deer bones and bowls.
These scenes and more are part of the Museum of Florida History’s recently opened permanent exhibit called Forever Changed: La Florida 1513-1821, a nod to the cultures of Spanish-speaking people who populated the country.
“We hope that people come away with a deeper appreciation of the diverse native peoples who were here at the time of European contact,” said Lisa Barton, senior curator for the Museum of Florida History.
The brightly colored exhibit takes visitors on a journey through Florida 500 or more years ago and they get to see artifacts and remnants of Native Americans lives. The exhibit also includes a mini replica of a tribe in Lake Jackson and their huts, leading into the remake of a Timucua women’s hut that had a painting of mothers and children sewing and cooking inside.
The exhibit then takes visitors into the “Meeting the Cultures” section where the lifelike mannequins stand as if they’re looking to tell their story. Each mannequin represents diverse people who interacted in 16th-century.
The artifacts came from a variety of places in the country, said Wanda Richey, public relations coordinator for the Museum of Florida History.
Guests can listen to audio about the people and why they were so influential at the time.
“We hope that we also inspire visitors to learn more about these subjects,” Barton said.
“Also we want to engage them while they’re here and we have set up some interactive activities that will be fun and informative.”
The sounds of the ocean rushing up against the shore, the nature and the chatter of Spanish speaking native and animals in the background set the tone as visitors approach the “Spanish Exploration.” Visitors will walk on a dock scene significant of the loading of a ship traveling to La Florida.
The exhibit includes a painting on the middle of the ships floor of people on the bottom of the ship, which also has compasses, the soldier’s uniforms and knots the soldiers had to tie with instructions.
As visitors continue to walk through towards the end of the exhibit, people will see more artifacts of cups and bowl used on the ship and more paintings of people to act as if there were loading the ship at the dock.
Bonnie McCluskey, the visitor supervisor for the Museum of Florida History, said visitors have been pleased with their work, according to surveys sent over by the museum.
The Museum is located in the R.A. Gray Building at 500 South Bronough Street in Tallahassee. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday and holidays, noon to 4:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For more information, call 850-245-6400 or visit the website at www.museumoffloridahistory.com.