Have you been to the Ah-Tah-Th-Ki Museum recently? If not, I recommend visiting soon, and thinking about the changes taking place in the next few years. For over 20 years, the museum has been a wonderful place to learn about the Tribe. Most of the museum are we call permanent galleries. Not much in them has changed since the museum was built. Those galleries show what Seminole life was like in the late 19th and early 20th century. But what about the hundreds and thousands of years before that? And what about the nearly 100 years since then? Those are huge parts of the Seminole story. We have places in the museum where our exhibits do change and where more of the story can be told. On a visit last year you may have seen a big exhibit about modern southeastern beadwork. But a few years ago, an exhibit about Seminole music was in the same gallery. It’s great to have spaces to tell interesting stories about topics not covered in the permanent galleries. But there are many topics to cover, and we can only do a few at a time. This was the reason we decided to start the redesign. We’re still in the planning phases, but we have a good idea of what it will all look like. At one end of the museum, the deep history of the Tribe will flow into the 19th century. Trade, camp life, the environment and war times will all be included, but it won’t stop there. Tourism and economic development in the early 20th century will lead to the formation of the Seminole Tribe and its late 20th century successes. Modern artists and musicians will be featured. There will also be a large video wall near the exit where modern Seminole life can be experienced. It’s a comprehensive plan, where we’ve tried to fit as much of the story as we can into the limited space we have.
My role in this process is to find the best historic objects for the exhibitions. It is wonderful to be able to select such a wide range of things, and to know that so many objects we preserve will be enjoyed by our visitors. I think you’ll be surprised about what ends up being on display. Not many people know we have such a wide variety of objects in our collection. Here are two examples, but please come and visit us if you want to see what we’re planning. We are doing this for the Seminole community; it is your museum. Please tell us if you have ideas for the museum, or if you want to see more of what we have in the collection. We’ll be happy to listen and help. Call the museum at 863-902-1113 and ask for the collections office.