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New acquisition honors donor intent, enhances museum collection

The centerpiece is the first of its kind in the museum’s collection. (Photo Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum)

BIG CYPRESS — While 2020 was a year where few new pieces of history were added to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s historic collection, 2021 has been a different story.

A recent donation of eight objects arrived for a unique reason. The posthumous donor was Carolyn F. Broadbent (Sept. 29, 1941 to May 26, 2019). Ms. Broadbent, a native of New York, moved to Tallahassee in 1973 with her husband. She worked for the Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs, directing the employment and training program from 1974 to 1989. She was an avid supporter of the arts, and this may be where her interest in Native American art in general, and Seminole and Miccosukee art in particular, began.

She continued working for the state government until her retirement in 2015, only a few years before she passed. It was after that sad date that the museum learned she wished to bequeath her Seminole and Miccosukee collection to the tribe. Unfortunately, she never made contact with the museum to tell us her intentions. We would have liked to thank her in person. But the least we can do is share some images of a few of the beautiful pieces she donated.

The donation included three baskets, two dolls, a patchwork sampler, a patchwork and basket base purse and a basket centerpiece. All the pieces date to the late 20th century and they really showcase the talent of Seminole artisans in these recent decades. The centerpiece has a sweetgrass basket base and patchwork flowers embellished by artificial leaves and blossoms. Tiny dolls complete the piece. One basket has an interesting top and handle. The framed patchwork sampler has seven rows of patchwork, including lightning and diamond patterns.

If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the donation in person just let us know. These eight new pieces have joined nearly 200,000 other pieces of Seminole history in the museum’s collection. Contact me to schedule a personal tour of our collection at your convenience: Tara Backhouse, tarabackhouse@semtribe.com. Thank you.

Samplers like this show the variety of available patchwork patterns. (Photo Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum)
Sweetgrass baskets come in many shapes and sizes. (Photo Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum)
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