UF employees receive free admission, gift shops discount Saturday

December 3rd, 2015
The museum is featuring a display of multicolored poinsettias in the Butterfly Rainforest through Dec. 31, a nice backdrop for family photographs. Photo by Kate Martin

The museum is featuring a display of multicolored poinsettias in the Butterfly Rainforest through Dec. 31, a nice backdrop for family photographs.
Photo by Kate Martin

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida employees will receive free admission and gift shop and plant sale discounts at the Florida Museum of Natural History from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, as part of UF Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day.

UF employees must present a valid Gator 1 card for free admission to the “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” and “Butterfly Rainforest” exhibits. The museum’s other exhibits are free. Employees may also show their Gator 1 card to receive a 10 percent discount in both museum gift shops, including butterfly-friendly plant purchases.

“The staff and faculty represent UF’s most valuable asset,” Florida Museum of Natural History Director Douglas Jones said. “By offering free admission to the ‘First Colony’ and ‘Butterfly Rainforest’ (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…)

UF scientific art competition now accepting entries from employees, students

November 13th, 2015

12790-The-Elegance-of-Science-rotatorGAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Elegance of Science art competition is now accepting submissions until Dec. 20 for work that emphasizes the connection between artistic and scientific perceptions of reality.

Organized by the Marston Science Library and Florida Museum of Natural History, the contest is open to UF students, staff and faculty who create two-dimensional images as part of their research or incorporate scientific tools or concepts in their artwork.

The contest aims to teach the community about science in a casual way while bridging gaps between people from diverse disciplines across campus, said (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…)

Explore the universe during free ‘Starry Night’ event Nov. 13

October 29th, 2015
A visitor observes the night sky using a professional-quality telescope during the 2014 "Starry Night" event. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

A visitor observes the night sky during the 2014 “Starry Night” event.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Area astronomy experts will provide Florida Museum of Natural History visitors an opportunity to explore the wonders of the universe Nov. 13 from 6 to 10 p.m. during the ninth annual “Starry Night” event.

Outside, weather permitting, visitors may gaze at binary stars and nebulas through professional-quality telescopes and learn about the universe with members of the Alachua Astronomy Club and University of Florida astronomy department.

Other free activities include a portable planetarium show and the opportunity to view the universe in 3-D as well as a 70-pound meteorite. Attendees also (more…)

Ancient fossils reveal humans were greater threat than climate change to Caribbean wildlife

October 20th, 2015
Fossils in a flooded cave reveal the impact of human activities on biodiversity. A recent National Science Foundation grant will allow Florida Museum of Natural History researchers to excavate in more caves, including this one on Crooked Island in the Bahamas. Photo courtesy of Kelly Delancy

Fossils in a flooded cave reveal the impact of human activities on biodiversity. A recent NSF grant will allow researchers to excavate in more caves, including this one on Crooked Island in the Bahamas.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Delancy

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nearly 100 fossil species pulled from a flooded cave in the Bahamas reveal a true story of persistence against all odds — at least until the time humans stepped foot on the islands.

University of Florida researchers say the discovery, detailed in a study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows many human activities pose a threat to the future of island biodiversity, with modern human-driven climate change not necessarily the most alarming. A new $375,000 National Science Foundation grant will allow further exploration of caves on Caribbean islands beginning in December.

Thirty-nine of the species discussed in the new study no longer exist on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. Of those, 17 species of birds likely fell victim to changes in climate and (more…)

Public invited to free biodiversity digitization event Oct. 24 as part of four-day global effort

October 16th, 2015

wedigbio_finalGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Area residents will have the opportunity to help make biological collections accessible online during a free event Oct. 24 at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The event from 10 a.m. to noon at Powell Hall on the University of Florida campus is part of the Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections project, known as WeDigBio. Participants will take part in a citizen science project to help convert some of the billions of records in analog form into digital format to advance scientific research.

Florida Museum associate curator and project coordinator Robert Guralnick said the event is an opportunity to (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…)

Alachua County fourth-graders to receive free ‘First Colony’ exhibit tours

September 29th, 2015
Students observe artifacts explaining how Native Americans made jewelry and other items out of silver and gold from shipwrecks off Florida’s coasts in the "First Colony: Our Spanish Origins" exhibit.  Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Students observe artifacts explaining how Native Americans made jewelry and other items out of silver and gold from shipwrecks off Florida’s coasts in the “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” exhibit.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Alachua County fourth-grade students have the opportunity to visit the Florida Museum of Natural History’s new featured exhibit, “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins,” during a two-hour free program beginning Oct. 27.

Designed to support classroom studies, the “First Colony Days” program engages students in learning about the nation’s first colony in St. Augustine through archaeology, history and the stories of people who lived there. Scheduled for 19 dates through January 2016, the program includes hands-on (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…)

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