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We recently posted some pictures on Instagram of the Calusa fishing camp diorama featured in our South Florida People & Environments exhibit. The happy responses were a little unexpected. Apparently the miniature Calusa camp is a personal favorite for some of our regular visitors!

The Calusa diorama was intended to tell the story of Calusa fishing in one scene – all types of fishing techniques, the gear used, the processing of the catch.

To create the diorama, Bill Marquardt and Darcie MacMahon worked with the artists, providing content based on historical and archaeological information about Calusa fishing. Bob Leavy, a long-time staff sculptor/artisan, created the 3D elements, and Stacey Breheny, another staff artist, painted the backdrop.

We originally built the miniature camp in two halves because it was made as part of a small traveling exhibit we created about Gulf Coast fishing traditions. If you look closely at the water’s edge, you can still see where we broke the diorama in two pieces for transportation.

The exhibit toured 10 Gulf Coast locations, and then we brought it home to become part of the new permanent South Florida exhibit that we opened on Oct. 5, 2002.

The overall South Florida exhibit designer was Dorr Dennis. Dorr had worked at the Smithsonian, and he relocated to Gainesville in the 1970s to be the Florida Museum exhibit designer when we moved our exhibits into Dickinson Hall. He was our lead designer for many years and the South Florida exhibit was his final project.

Exhibit info: South Florida People & Environments

Did you know… People lived and fished on Florida’s Gulf Coast long before the first pyramids were built in Egypt!