The Butterfly Rainforest will be closed due to weather Jan 17-18. Behind-the-scenes tours available on Thursday. More Info
Three Sisters Spring, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, 2012S-RGB
John Moran photographed this manatee at Three Sisters Springs in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in 2012. It is part of the “Springs Eternal” exhibit opening March 23.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will open two new free exhibits Saturday featuring the state’s natural springs and exploring legends surrounding Ponce de León’s discovery of the state 500 years ago.

The “Springs Eternal: Florida’s Fragile Fountains of Youth” exhibit features 88 images by nature photographer John Moran, including a 20-foot-by-60-foot photograph of two manatees and four other large-scale images. Based on an upcoming book by Rick Kilby, the “Finding the Fountain of Youth: Discovering Florida’s Magical Waters” exhibit examines how the legend of Ponce de Leon’s quest for restorative waters shaped the Sunshine State’s image as a land of fantasy, rejuvenation and magical spring-fed waters.

“Pictures are truly worth a thousand words,” said Darcie MacMahon, Florida Museum assistant director for exhibits. “It’s one thing to talk about the crisis with our water supply, but it’s another to see it visually documented in Moran’s photographic retrospective of the springs.”

Florida is home to an array of freshwater springs, which have lured explorers, investors, tourists and artists alike. However, on 500th anniversary of Ponce de León's arrival, Florida's springs are serious peril. Photo taken by John Moran.
Florida’s freshwater springs have lured explorers, investors, tourists and artists for years.
Photo by John Moran.

Moran has been on a quest to photograph the wild heart of Florida with the passionate eye of an artist for the past 30 years. “Springs Eternal” is a visual celebration of the state’s natural springs, a meditation on their future and an invitation for residents to fall in love with this vital resource again, mindful that choices made today foretell Florida’s future.

Also rich in images, Kilby’s “Finding the Fountain of Youth” exhibition shows how the myths surrounding the discovery of “La Florida” influenced perceptions of the state that still echo today.

“Florida’s springs are a window into the aquifer, our precious source of water,” MacMahon said. “I hope this powerful visual study will galvanize attitudes and actions toward changing how Floridians manage water.”

The museum will display both exhibits through Dec. 15.


Source: Darcie MacMahon,
Writer: Kate Schofield,
Media contact: Paul Ramey,, 352-273-2054