By Jim Patrick, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum
BIG CYPRESS — During the temporary closure at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, the exhibits division is both looking back and moving forward. Realizing the increased importance of distancing and hygiene forces us to create alternative ways to interact and learn. Preparing for in-person attendance challenges us to re-imagine our spaces. Always ready for opportunities to engage with the community, we strive to tell the Seminole story in different ways and places.
We have three galleries that typically rotate out short-term exhibitions to cover different subjects, showcase different artists, and highlight different aspects of the culture and history of the Seminole people. Prior to replacing any of them, steps are now being taken to make them available electronically. This includes 3D renderings and animations which go into more detail than the recently available virtual tour. Currently we have a link to one such animation available for the Mosaic Gallery https://www.ahtahthiki.com/mosaic/ where our local Ahfachkee School (K-12) artists are showcased – more to come! Another way we memorialize these exhibits is by recording a guided video walkthrough. Look for this feature soon from our West Gallery to experience our popular alligator wrestling exhibition.
One way we are moving toward re-opening is by removing dividers that create confined spaces, thus providing the opportunity for more physical distancing for the visitor. We are also exploring alternatives to physical and touchable components. One alternative is the use of personal cell phones for audio programs as opposed to handsets handled by the public. Other methods for gaining confidence are installing appropriate hygienic safeguards including gloves, disinfectants, reminder signage and a controlled direction of foot traffic.
Coming soon to our Selections Gallery, we are preparing an exhibit on Buffalo Tiger. This important and influential leader was not only paramount in the independence of the Miccosukee Tribe, but also an inspiration to the balance between progress and tradition. This exciting new exhibition will focus on his contributions to the sovereignty and education of native people and his lead in the fight to protect the Creator’s gifts.
In celebration of Native American Cultural History Month in November, we have banners on display at the Kendale branch of the Miami-Dade Public Library. These banners inform and celebrate the history and culture of the “Unconquered People” and will be on exhibit throughout the month.
Our plan is to continue to provide a safe, engaging, and educational experience, while adding alternatives to a typical visit. We are recording and making available the current exhibits, developing new exhibits to be ready for the re-opening, and identifying areas where we can increase confidence of safety for the visitor and the community. Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki, a place to learn, a place to remember.