‘Passport’ gala Feb. 19 to benefit educational programs

February 5th, 2016

16314 Passport FB 1 FNLGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Prepare for an island-hopping adventure and join the Florida Museum of Natural History for its annual “Passport” gala fundraiser Feb. 19 from 7 to 11 p.m. to support pre-K through 12th grade education programs.

Organized by the Florida Museum Associates Board, “Passport to Caribbean Nights” proceeds will help fund education initiatives including admission assistance for Title I schools, outreach to elementary classrooms and after-school programs, and funding for camp scholarships and the junior volunteer program.

“Children who visit the museum discover the excitement and wonder of science and of the natural world,” said Anne Shermyen, Florida Museum Associates Board vice president. “They also can experience history and learn of our diverse cultural heritage.”

Proceeds from last year’s event were used to bring more than 1,800 Alachua County fourth-grade students to the museum as part of a two-hour free program to visit the “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” exhibit. The grant from the Florida Museum Associates Board covered (more…)

Before the Pilgrims, Floridians celebrated the ‘real’ first Thanksgiving

November 18th, 2015
Florida Museum Historical Archaeology Collection Manager Gifford Waters, pictured in the “First Colony” exhibit, is one of the UF experts setting the record straight about the first Thanksgiving, which actually took place in Florida more than 50 years before the Pilgrims’ feast.  UF photo by Bernard Brzezinski

Florida Museum Historical Archaeology Collection Manager Gifford Waters, pictured in the “First Colony” exhibit, is one of the UF experts setting the record straight about the first Thanksgiving, which actually took place in Florida more than 50 years before the Pilgrims’ feast.
UF photo by Bernard Brzezinski

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s that time of year when children make cardboard turkeys and draw the Mayflower, while we prepare to fill our tables with stuffing and pumpkin pie the way most of us imagine the Pilgrims did at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

But there’s just one catch, according to archaeologists at the Florida Museum of Natural History: The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving wasn’t the first.

The nation’s real first Thanksgiving took place more than 50 years earlier near the Matanzas River in St. Augustine, Florida, when Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and 800 soldiers, sailors and settlers joined local Native Americans in a feast that followed a Mass of Thanksgiving, according to Kathleen Deagan, distinguished research curator emerita of historical archaeology at the museum, located on the University of Florida campus.

Instead of flat-top hats and oversized buckles, conquistadors wore armor and (more…)

Museum to host 17th ‘Trashformations’ student recycled art competition

November 3rd, 2015
Museum visitor views an entry constructed from recycled materials for the 2014 "Trashformations" student art competition.  Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Museum visitor views an entry constructed from recycled materials for the 2014 “Trashformations” student art competition.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Alachua County students will learn the value of repurposed waste during the 17th annual “Trashformations” student recycled art competition awards ceremony Nov. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Participants will transform “waste” into creative works of art to compete for cash and other awards. Middle school, high school and college students are eligible to apply through Nov. 13.

“The museum is committed to providing resources and setting an example for a sustainable society,” said Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland. “ ‘Trashformations’ is a unique way to feature area student artists’ interpretation of what ‘trash’ can become.”

To participate in the eco-friendly contest, at least 70 percent of the entry must be constructed from recycled materials. Judges select winners based on creative expression and (more…)

‘First Colony’ exhibit celebration features free opening day activities

October 12th, 2015
The “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” exhibition features an interactive, hands-on table that gives visitors the opportunity to work as an archaeologist, including uncovering artifacts. The Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville will display “First Colony”  Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

The “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” exhibition features an interactive, hands-on table that gives visitors the opportunity to work as an archaeologist, including uncovering artifacts.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will have the opportunity Saturday to participate in free opening day activities celebrating the museum’s new featured exhibit, “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins.”

The celebration scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. features hands-on activities, interactive displays, information from outside groups and a special presentation by Kathleen Deagan, Florida Museum distinguished research curator emerita.

Deagan, who has conducted fieldwork in St. Augustine, Florida, since 1972, will discuss what she and other scientists have learned about American history from the first Spanish sites.

“Archaeology in the Spanish settlement has helped change our understanding of America’s colonial origins,” said Deagan, who also is a University of Florida adjunct professor emerita of anthropology, history and Latin American studies. “Our first permanent colony was established 42 years before Jamestown. The artifacts and (more…)

Museum sets date for 100-year anniversary gala in 2017

September 28th, 2015

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will celebrate its 100-year anniversary as the state museum with a gala on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2017, from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Powell Hall on the University of Florida campus. The event will include dinner, live entertainment and dancing.

Other anniversary weekend activities include a public celebration and academic symposium. The museum is also producing a special 100-year anniversary exhibition scheduled to open during fall 2017.

The museum traces its roots to the 1890s as part of Florida Agriculture College in Lake City, where the first specimens were collected and used for teaching. In 1906, the collections were moved and the museum was established on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville.

The celebration marks the anniversary of the museum’s designation as the state’s (more…)

New exhibit challenges belief first Thanksgiving held in Jamestown

August 27th, 2015

‘First Colony’ details St. Augustine’s Spanish roots
Photos available

PrintGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors can discover the little-known history of the nation’s first enduring European settlement at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s new featured exhibit, “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins,” opening Oct. 17.

Spaniards, free and enslaved Africans and Native Americans crafted America’s original “melting pot” in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565, long before the founding of Jamestown. “First Colony” features the site’s archeology, history and stories of people who lived there.

“‘First Colony’ challenges the long-standing belief that the English were the first to colonize America and establishes St. Augustine as our country’s oldest enduring European settlement,” said Florida Museum exhibit developer Julie Waters. “We’re (more…)

New ‘Exploring Our World’ exhibit features research

July 3rd, 2015

EOWGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors can learn about the importance of research and collections in a new exhibit now on display at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“Exploring Our World” features information about ongoing University of Florida and museum research, and spotlights current UF initiatives in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. The UF research section includes videos produced by students highlighting projects across campus.

“The exhibits at the museum are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Florida Museum exhibit developer Julie Waters. “The museum has vast collections and a rich history of research, (more…)

Museum’s 2015 volunteers of year includes new student award winner

April 27th, 2015
Coleman

Crystal Coleman received the museum’s newly formed Student Volunteer of the Year Award for 2015.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently recognized its 2015 volunteers of the year, including a new student award winner.

Russell Henderson and Gerald Kidder were named winners of the James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award, and Crystal Coleman was recognized with a newly formed Student Volunteer of the Year Award. The Florida Museum recognized the winners during its annual volunteer reception April 1.

Winning in the exhibits and public programs division, Henderson served 220 hours during 2014 and has completed more than 1,454 hours at the museum since he began volunteering in 2008 as a docent. He is known by his colleagues to attend a variety of museum programs to further his knowledge, help visitors dig deeper into a topic and keep others informed of new ways to become effective docents.

“Russell’s easygoing approach with museum visitors is one of his most valuable assets,” wrote Florida Museum school programs coordinator Dianne Behringer in her nomination letter. “I very regularly observe laughter and smiles as I pass by Russell and his group.”

Awarded for his work in research and collections, Kidder served 145 hours during 2014 and (more…)

Brownie, Junior Girl Scout butterfly program set for May 1

April 15th, 2015
scouts

Emily Winters, production assistant in the “Butterfly Rainforest” exhibit, shows Scouts from various troops an owl butterfly during the 2014 “Girl Scouts Explore: Botany” program.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Girl Scouts are invited to participate in an evening exploration of butterflies and moths from around the world at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s “Girl Scouts Explore: Lepidoptera” program May 1.

The program from 6 to 9 p.m. offers Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts the opportunity to learn how to identify, classify and pin butterfly specimens that will be added to the museum’s collections. By completing the program, Scouts may earn a museum logo patch with an accompanying “Lepidoptera” bar specially designed for the event.

“This event will provide Girl Scouts with a wonderful opportunity to not only learn about butterflies and moths first-hand, but also to interact with women in the science field and researchers with the ‘Butterfly Rainforest’ and the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity,” said Florida Museum educator Amber Hodges.

During the program, Scouts will explore the “Wall of Wings” and (more…)

Earth Day event April 18 to feature geocaching activity

April 8th, 2015

Earth-Day-LogoPollinator plant sale April 17-19 includes early opening Sunday

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors can experience the awe of nature during the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Earth Day celebration April 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event also features a large pollinator-friendly plant sale April 17-19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. including extended hours on Sunday.

The event offers an opportunity to observe diverse specimens from the museum’s vast collections and includes outdoor activities in the adjacent University of Florida Natural Area Teaching Laboratory.

New this year, UF’s George A. Smathers Map and Imagery Library will provide visitors with GPS devices to help locate available geocaches around the Cultural Plaza.

“The museum is like an iceberg, and (more…)