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Tusks to Tails: A Fossil History of Florida

Now on Exhibit – January 16, 2022

Life in Florida stretches back millions of years. Long before the first Paleoindians made Florida home, gargantuan sharks swam in Florida seas and furry mammoths munched on Florida grass.

How do we know? In a word, fossils.

Fossil hunters have uncovered saber-toothed tiger fangs, ancient whale bones, giant sloth claws and other remains in Florida riverbeds, phosphate mines and even under coastal ocean waters. Through inquiry and scientific dating, paleontologists have used these fossils to give us a glimpse into Florida’s distant past.

“Tusks to Tails” is on exhibit in the Wayne Thomas Gallery.

The Shape We’re In: Early Maps of Florida

Now on Exhibit – July 4, 2021

Every school kid knows that Ponce de Leon was the first European explorer to “discover” Florida. But, was he?

A new exhibition of rare, early maps in the History Center, Touchton Map Library suggests otherwise.

“The Shape We’re In: Early Maps of Florida” opens Saturday, Sept. 19, and includes one of the rarest Florida maps in the world.

Printed in 1511, the Peter Martyr map as it’s commonly known, is the first to show the Florida peninsula, two years before Ponce de Leon landed on Florida’s east coast.


The map was a gift to the History Center in 2019 by Art and Jan Holzheimer of Chicago, longtime map collectors and admirers of the History Center.

The 1511 map is the centerpiece of an exhibit that includes some of the oldest printed maps of Florida, several of which date back to the early 1500s.

Incredibly rare, there are only 20 Martyr maps known to exist worldwide, with just a few in the U.S., and Tampa is now home to one of them.

“The Shape We’re In” is on exhibit in the Touchton Map Library’s Saunders Gallery.

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence 

Now on Exhibit

 The story of women’s suffrage is a story of voting rights, of inclusion in and exclusion from the franchise, and of our civic development as a nation. Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence, a poster exhibition from the Smithsonian, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment and explores the complexity of the women’s suffrage movement and the relevance of this history to Americans’ lives today.

The crusade for women’s suffrage is one of the longest reform movements in American history. Between 1832 and 1920, women citizens organized for the right to vote, agitating first in their states or territories and then, simultaneously, through petitioning for a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Based on the National Portrait Gallery exhibition of the same name, Votes for Women seeks to expand visitors’ understanding of the suffrage movement in the United States. The poster exhibition addresses women’s political activism, explores the racism that challenged universal suffrage, and documents the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment which prohibits the government from denying U.S. citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. It also touches upon the suffrage movement’s relevance to current conversations on voting and voting rights across America.

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery. This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative.

The Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, Because of Her Story is one of the country’s most ambitious undertakings to research, collect, document display and share the compelling story of women. It will deepen our understanding of women’s contributions to the nation and the world. More information about the initiative is available at womenshistory.si.edu.

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