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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.

Picturing Women Inventors

Now on Exhibit

Throughout American history, women with diverse backgrounds and interests created inventions that changed lives every day. But women haven’t always had equal opportunities to be inventors or received as much recognition. The Smithsonian and the United States Patent and Trademark Office present “Picturing Women Inventors,” a poster exhibition that explores the inventions of 19 highly accomplished American women. Astronauts, computer pioneers, and businesswomen join athletes, engineers, and even teenagers in this remarkable group of inventors.

“Picturing Women Inventors” showcases the breakthroughs, motivations, and challenges women encountered while pursuing their goals as inventors. The poster exhibition highlights stories of inventors like Marilyn Hamilton, who after a hang-gliding accident in 1978 left her paralyzed, invented a lightweight wheelchair that was easy to maneuver. Diversity of background and age are showcased including inventor Alexis Lewis, who at 12-years-old in 2011 was inspired to adapt a traditional Native American sled, called a travois, by adding wheels to create a simpler way to transport families and their belongings in Somalia.

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