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Summer acquisitions update from Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

William Cypress’s beautiful silver jewelry, above and right, now shines in the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. (Photo Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum)

BIG CYPRESS — In February we brought you an article about the collections acquisitions process at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. The museum’s collection is full of historic and modern items that we preserve for present and future Seminole generations. The collection helps the museum fulfill its mission. The museum takes responsibility for its collection and agrees to care for it using professional standards that help keep the collection safe for future generations. Since the museum was chartered in 1989, staff has worked hard to collect many different kinds of things that help tell the Seminole story. New pieces enter the museum’s collection every year. They can be art or clothing; decorative objects like beadwork, baskets and dolls; photographs documents and maps; and oral histories. All acquisitions are only acquired after a diverse committee votes with majority approval in each case.

1920s child’s patchwork cape and dress enhance the extensive patchwork collection at the museum. (Photo Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Musuem)


This month we bring you an update about some of the newest additions to the collection. 2021 has brought us unique, rare and beautiful pieces of art. We are especially thrilled to welcome eight pieces of silver jewelry, crafted by noted artist William Cypress. Work such as the diamond cutout earrings show Seminole themes. He also draws inspiration from other sources. The dolphin pendant was inspired by Calusa culture and motifs. While the museum has a few historic silver pieces, Cypress’s pieces represent the first modern Seminole silverwork in the collection.

The second summer highlight is a child’s patchwork dress and cape that was purchased by a tourist in Miami in 1925. It is a charming pastel outfit in good condition for its age. It has two simple strips of patchwork, which is also common for early 20th century patchwork. The cape and skirt together measure just over 3.5 feet long, so we can assume it was meant to fit someone under 5 feet tall. While it’s hard to tell from the picture, the small size of pieces like these make them special. Historic clothes made for children are much less common than pieces made for adults.


Next time you are able to visit the museum, you may not see our new acquisitions in the galleries. With nearly 200,000 pieces of Seminole history, we can only put a small percentage of our collection on exhibit in the galleries at one time. You can see much more on a behind-the-scenes tour of the rest of our collection in our world-class storage vaults. I would be happy to set up a personal experience for you and your family to experience this part of the museum. Just let me know if you’re interested. I can be reached at tarabackhouse@semtribe.com. Looking forward to it!

William Cypress’s beautiful silver jewelry, above and right, now shines in the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.
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