Museum to mark 100th anniversary with gala, new exhibits and more

February 14th, 2017

The Florida Museum of Natural History is celebrating its 100-year anniversary as the official state natural history museum with a series of special events this year.

On Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, the museum will host a gala from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Powell Hall on the University of Florida campus, with dinner, live entertainment and dancing.

Other anniversary weekend activities include a public presentation featuring National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore, who will speak at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, April 21 at 8 p.m.

An exclusive birthday party for museum members is planned for Tuesday, May 30.

New exhibits include the permanent “Beverly and Jon Thompson Discovery Zone” scheduled to open July 17 (more…)

Celebrate new exhibit with ‘Froggy 5K’ race Feb. 11

January 19th, 2017

The Florida Museum of Natural History will hold its first 5K race on Feb. 11 to help celebrate the opening of the new featured exhibit “Frogs! A Chorus of Colors.”

The “Froggy 5K” begins at 8:30 a.m. in the University of Florida Cultural Plaza commuter lot. The race route includes a combination of trails in the UF Natural Area Teaching Laboratory and campus roads.

“Race participants have an opportunity to see trails in their own backyard that they might not have discovered yet,” said Florida Museum volunteer coordinator and race organizer Amy Hester. “We hope they discover their love of nature during the run.”

Early registration is $25, or $15 for UF students with a valid Gator 1 card. Participants will receive a long-sleeved T-shirt and free entry into the “Frogs!” exhibit on race day. The race is open to all ages.

The deadline to register early is Jan. 24 and (more…)

New ‘Frogs’ featured exhibit opens Jan. 28

December 22nd, 2016

Guests may examine a live dyeing poison frog, one of an array of poisonous species from the rain forests of the Americas on display in “Frogs!”
© velora

Hop into the musical and multicolored world of anurans, commonly known as frogs and toads, and gain a new appreciation for the beauty of these vocal amphibians this spring at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Beginning Jan. 28, 2017, Florida Museum visitors will be able to get up-close and personal with big, loud and even poisonous frogs in the museum’s new featured exhibit “Frogs! A Chorus of Colors.”

Showcasing various species of live frogs and toads, “Frogs” is the most advanced traveling frog exhibition in the country. Guests may view tree frogs, bullfrogs, horned frogs, giant toads and dart poison frogs.

“Frogs are important globally for ecosystem health, but are under very serious threats from fungal diseases as well as loss of habitat and climate change,” said Darcie MacMahon, Florida Museum exhibits and public programs director. “This exhibit will help all of us learn more about their value in nature and challenges they face to survive.”

The Florida Museum is also supplementing the exhibit with updated material from its researchers, including what the fossil record reveals about frogs’ evolutionary history and the diversity, (more…)

‘Changing Climate and Our Health’ exhibit now open

November 1st, 2016
Divers at Ginnie Springs. UF/IFAS photo by Sally Lanigan

Divers at Ginnie Springs. UF/IFAS photo by Sally Lanigan

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While most global warming headlines in mainstream media have focused on sea level rise, a new exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History investigates the health effects of climate change for North Central Florida residents.

Through photos and other images from a number of local, regional and national sources, “Changing Climate and Our Health” also provides concrete ways people can take action. The free exhibit is the latest in a series of displays highlighting world issues that influence humans’ daily lives.

“Climate change will impact everyone,” said exhibit project lead Katie Stofer of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Focusing on our local area makes the problem much more meaningful and manageable. I’m hopeful the exhibit will promote conversation on this important topic.”

The exhibit examines air quality, variations in (more…)

Limited media access to ‘Wicked Plants’ author Amy Stewart this Saturday

May 16th, 2016

MEDIA ADVISORY

RSVP REQUIRED

WHEN: Saturday, May 21, 5:30 p.m.

WHO: New York Times best-selling author Amy Stewart is available for limited media interviews before she speaks during a members-only reception and book signing at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The museum’s current featured exhibit is based on Stewart’s book “Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.” Media interested in interviewing Stewart must call Paul Ramey, 352-213-0999, in advance.

WHERE: Florida Museum of Natural History, 3215 Hull Road, Gainesville, 32611

DETAILS: For information on “Wicked Plants: The Exhibit,” visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/wickedplants/. For more information on Amy Stewart, visit www.amystewart.com/.

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Contact: Paul Ramey, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-213-0999

‘Wicked Plants’ opening celebration May 14 features family activities

May 3rd, 2016

wickedlogoSMwebGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will have an opportunity to play an “animal murder mystery game” and participate in other free family-friendly activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 14 during opening day of the new featured exhibition, “Wicked Plants: The Exhibit.”

Visitors can speak with Florida Museum botanists who will bring specimens from the collections, or play “pollinator vision” and “match the plant with the pollinator” with Gators Reaching Out With Botany.

Other participants include Alachua Conservation Trust, the City of Gainesville Nature Operations Division, (more…)

New ‘Crafting Ethnic Identity’ exhibit opens May 7

April 27th, 2016
An Andean man from the 1970s wears a traditional outfit from the Cuzco region. Photo courtesy of Roy C. Craven

An Andean man from the 1970s wears a traditional outfit from the Cuzco region.
Photo courtesy of Roy C. Craven

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors can learn about how people with roots in pre-Hispanic cultures from South and Central America express their identities through clothing designs and materials that echo their community’s past in a new exhibit opening May 7 at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“Crafting Ethnic Identity in the Andes and Mesoamerica: Highlights from the Doughty Folk Art Collection” features authentic hand-crafted items, including heirlooms dating to the late 1800s, and offers a glimpse into the mid-20th-century lifestyles of indigenous people.

Compiled over a period of more than 30 years, the Doughty collection was recently donated to the Florida Museum. This exhibit reflects the many years Paul and Polly Doughty spent living and (more…)

New featured exhibit on ‘Wicked Plants’ opens May 14

April 20th, 2016

16434 Wicked Plants FB Graphic 1 FNLGAINESVILLE, Fla. —While the effects of marijuana, mushrooms and poison ivy are fairly well-known, many people may be surprised to learn about the potential danger of common plants in and around their homes.

And beginning May 14, Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will learn about the power that plants hold in its newest featured exhibit, “Wicked Plants: The Exhibit.”

The exhibit features more than 100 plants and is designed to educate guests about botanicals that are harmful to humans and animals, including evildoers lurking in the home and backyard. The story is brought to life inside an old home, where visitors will encounter a deadly dinner in the dining room, terrible toxins in the parlor, social misfits in the bathroom and (more…)

‘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…)