Our year finished on a high note with completion of a site
master plan by the SmithGroup architects of Washington, D.C.
A glimpse of this vision for our reinvented, reunited Florida
Museum for the 21st century is included in the following pages.
Finally, I am saddened to report that Dr. Arnold Grobman, second
Director of the Museum from 1952 to 1959, passed away on July
8, 2012. His innovative leadership, combined with his passion for
collections and research, placed the Florida Museum firmly on its
current path to balanced success.
Douglas S. Jones
Museums can be paradoxical institutions. Central to their mission is the preservation in perpetuity of their collections.
This means museum staff labor to minimize change, and ensure as little alteration as possible to objects under their care.
On the other hand, like the business sector, museums must constantly change to remain relevant to their evolving
audiences. The life expectancy of a museum that fails to keep pace with emerging societal concerns, advancing
technology, or learning innovation is predictably short. At the Florida Museum of Natural History, we strive to balance those
parts of our institutional ecosystem dedicated to constancy and predictability, with those components committed to change
You will see on the ensuing pages that our institution’s balancing act between preservation and innovation has been
occurring for more than 100 years, and we continue to find new ways to strike that balance. This year we were fortunate to
hire two extraordinary faculty curators, Dr. Akito Kawahara in Lepidoptera and Dr. Michal Kowalewski, our first occupant
of the newly endowed Jon & Beverly Thompson Chair in Invertebrate Paleontology. These hires simultaneously address
our commitment to collections and innovative research. Another notable example is our NSF-funded iDigBio project, which
positions the Florida Museum as the national hub of a network seeking to digitize the country’s biocollections.
On the public side of the Museum, we initiated a fundraising campaign to reinvent our
as a permanent
addition to Powell Hall. However, the biggest story of the year belonged to our largest reptile,
Titanoboa: Monster Snake
A team of scientists, including faculty curator Dr. Jonathon Bloch, his students and colleagues discovered this spectacular
fossil of the largest snake that ever lived in a Colombian coal mine. It was the subject of a Smithsonian Channel
documentary film, many magazine and other news articles, and a Smithsonian traveling exhibition the Florida Museum will
display in 2013. Get ready to be impressed!
Former Florida Museum of Natural History Director J.C. Dickinson, Jr. and other
employees are pictured in the Dickinson Hall courtyard in 1971, when the building
was formally dedicated after the Museum moved from the Seagle Building downtown
back to the main UF campus.