Sept. 23, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018

Free admission

From rare, ancient treasures to cutting-edge technologies, the exhibit showcases the Museum’s 17 collections and research initiatives that address topics from extinction to biodiversity. Visitors may interact with scientists working in the lab from a different collection each week, explore the institution’s rich history and learn how the Museum has affected the lives of students, volunteers, employees and donors.

Objects from the Museum’s 40 million specimens also reveal the stories of everything from coral reefs to human health to prehistoric life. Discover ways science has changed over time, and how the Florida Museum remains committed to addressing future critical world issues, including biodiversity, climate change, invasive species and more.

Visit Official Exhibit Website

Objects Tell Stories
Learn about the key role museum collections play in telling the story of life of Earth. Objects in the collections hold secrets to past cultures and climates, including changes over time, and help track genetic change and diversity. Collection data is also being used to help solve many world issues, including climate change, water and air quality, and more.

While the exhibit celebrates the museum’s designation as the state natural history museum in 1917, the institution traces its roots to Florida Agricultural College in Lake City, where the first teaching collections were started in 1891.

Faces of the Museum
Through personal interviews, learn how the museum has affected the lives of many individuals, including employees, visitors, students, volunteers and other stakeholders. A story kiosk allows visitors to contribute their own memories or thoughts of the museum.

Working Lab
This working lab features a different museum collection area each week. Guests may gain a first-hand look at what goes on behind the scenes while observing and speaking with museum staff and students.

On the Brink and Extinct
These areas provide a glimpse of species that have gone extinct over the past 100 years, including actual specimens from the museum collections. Learn why scientists believe we are currently in the midst of Earth’s sixth mass extinction event and hear about some of the museum’s conservation efforts to save threatened species on the brink of extinction, including Schaus’ swallowtail butterflies.

Technology has improved how researchers utilize the collections. For example, CT scans allow an object to be studied without damaging it, and at the same time provide a way for the data to be shared with researchers, students and the public worldwide. Visitors can learn about some of these initiatives and view a 3-D printer in action as it replicates collection objects.

Mobile experience
Visitors may access a companion website from their own mobile device that includes an exhibit audio tour allowing them to hear scientists discussing interesting stories about the objects (Bring your earbuds!). Guests may also participate in a scavenger hunt, using riddles as clues to find museum objects. Tablet devices will also be available for check out.

  • Lionfish have long, venomous fin spines and are an invasive species in North and South America. Lionfish “rodeos” are held to control their spread and help educate anglers on how to safely collect them.
  • The Cuban tree frog is the largest tree frog species found in Florida, reaching up to five inches in length.
  • The air potato is a plant native to tropical Asia that thrives in Florida due to the warm climate – it can grow 8 inches a day.
  • A sea cucumber can throw out its gut when disturbed and regenerate it.
  • The luna moth evolved long spinning tails that are used as acoustic deflectors against predatory bats.
  • Humpback whales don’t eat in the winter when they are breeding, instead living off their fat preserves.
  • The northern mockingbird can imitate the songs of at least 50 other species of Southern birds. It can even mimic car horns and car alarms.
  • Titanoboa is the world’s largest snake. Scientists estimate it could have been 45 to 50 feet long and 3 feet wide, weighing over a ton.
  • Agatized coral forms over time when the coral’s original calcium carbonate skeleton is slowly dissolved by acidic groundwater and partially replaced by dissolved silica, which creates beautiful specimens with cave-like appearances.
  • The oldest known grapes were growing in Central India before humans existed.
  • In the Caribbean, native people frequently used alcohol or hallucinogens during ceremonies to communicate with spirits.
  • Highly skilled potters sculpted animals onto effigy vessels, giving a glimpse of creatures that held symbolic importance.
  • Christopher Columbus established the short-lived settlement La Navidad in what is now Haiti. Artifacts found at the site, such as musket balls, suggest violent interactions between the Spaniards and the local Taíno.
  • The Nazca people of Peru often painted figures such as the fox deity, known in Peruvian religion as the animal counterpart of the moon, on their pottery.
  • Clam shells form yearly growth rings that record changes in the marine environment during the life of the animal.
  • Early Seminoles made traditional baskets from split saw palmetto stems but introduced sweetgrass baskets in the early 20th century to sell for extra income.
  • The Lakota traditionally used dyed porcupine quills to adorn items such as tobacco pouches.

Sept. 23–28: Historical Archaeology

Sept. 29–Oct. 4:  Environmental Archaeology

Oct. 5–10:  Ornithology

Oct. 11–16:  Florida Program for Shark Research

Oct. 17–Oct. 22: Paleobotany

Oct. 23–Oct. 28: Mammalogy

Oct. 29–Nov. 3: Herbarium

Nov. 4–9: Herpetology

Nov. 10–15: Vertebrate Paleontology

Nov. 16–22: South Florida Archaeology

Nov. 24–29: Molecular Genetics Lab

Nov. 30–Dec. 5: Invertebrate Zoology

Dec. 6–11: Florida Archaeology

Dec. 12–17: Ichthyology

Dec. 18–20: Ethnography

Dec. 21–23: Caribbean Archaeology

Dec. 26–Jan. 2: Lepidoptera (McGuire Center)

Jan. 3–7: Invertebrate Paleontology

If you have your smart phone, or want to check out one of our tablets, there’s more to this exhibit than meets the eye!

Audio Tour

Every object has a story – and most won’t fit on a label. Read or listen to stories about each object told by a Museum scientist for a more personal perspective. Look for the object’s number in the case to search the site or simply browse to learn more.

  • Rent a Museum iPad? Tap Audio Tour on the start screen.
  • Bring Your Own Smart Phone or Tablet? Visit the Official Exhibit Website

Forget your headphones? Ear buds are available for purchase in the front gift shop.

Scavenger Hunt Game

Can you decipher the clues, find all the objects and earn a prize? Location-aware technology will lead you through five different zones of the exhibit to search for objects as answers to fun riddles. Can be played multiple times.

  • Rent a Museum iPad? Tap Scavenger Hunt on the start screen.
  • Bring Your Own Smart Phone or Tablet? Joining the local Wi-Fi is REQUIRED to play the scavenger hunt. Check out the sign next to the exhibit entrance or ask at the front desk for the scavenger hunt URL.

Rare, Beautiful & Fascinating: 100 Years @FloridaMuseum was created by the Florida Museum of Natural History and made possible with financial support from Jon & Beverly Thompson and the 1923 Fund.