Established in 1983, the South Florida Program investigates, reports on, and conserves knowledge of the past environments and cultures of South Florida, with the ultimate goal of understanding the emergence of social and political complexity in pre-Columbian South Florida.
The Systematic Collections are most comprehensive for Southwest Florida. There are also important reference collections from elsewhere in South Florida. The Pineland Collection includes more than 140,000 items from a major Calusa town site. It is comprised of artifacts, environmental specimens and associated records, including Native American pottery sherds; tools and decorative objects made of shell, bone, shark teeth and stone; Spanish-derived glass, metal and ceramic objects; and waterlogged wood, seeds and other organic materials. The Key Marco Collection, the best-known collection from South Florida, was excavated in 1896 from a waterlogged site on Marco Island. Unusual conditions of preservation allowed recovery of netting, cordage, wooden boxes and bowls, bone implements, several extraordinary carved and painted masks and figureheads, and a famous 6-inch-high carved wooden seated feline figurine. Other comprehensive collections are those from the Blueberry Site, Fort Center and Mound Key. The Pottery Type Collection maintained by our Ceramic Technology Laboratory is a type collection of pre-Columbian pottery found in Florida.
The Florida Ethnographic Collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Florida Seminole and Miccosukee materials in the world. The more than 1,100 objects include photo prints and slides, postcards, posters, glass plate negatives, audio recordings, books, newspaper articles, bandolier bags, baskets, beadwork, dolls, moccasins, rattles, silverwork, tools, woodcrafts and patchwork clothing.