VivaFL 500 w-webGAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will host “Celebrating La Florida: Spanish Explorers at the Edge of the World” from 10:15 a.m. to noon Saturday, discussing the people, environment and cultures encountered by the state’s early explorers.

The free program sponsored by University Press of Florida features five scholars covering a variety of topics, including history, geography, archaeology and ethnology.

“To celebrate the quincentennial, we wanted to engage people with Florida’s remarkable history and culture by giving them a glimpse of the world Spanish explorers discovered upon first landing,” said University Press of Florida Director Meredith Morris-Babb. “The presentations will provide insight into Ponce de León’s voyage and examine the events following the explorer’s arrival on April 2, 1513, with a goal of creating a better understanding of interactions with the native peoples, initial efforts to settle Florida and resulting Spanish influences in the state.”

The program features Michael Gannon, University of Florida distinguished service history professor emeritus and author and editor of books including “The New History of Florida,” “Florida: A Short History” and “Michael Gannon’s History of Florida in 40 Minutes;” William Marquardt, Florida Museum curator of South Florida archaeology and ethnography, director of the Randall Research Center in Pineland and coauthor of “The Calusa and Their Legacy” and “The Archaeology of Pineland;” Kathleen Deagan, Florida Museum distinguished research curator of archaeology emeritus and the Lockwood Professor of Florida and Caribbean Archaeology and coauthor of “Fort Mose;” Christopher Meindl, associate professor of geography and director of the Florida Studies Program at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg; and Steve Noll, senior lecturer in history at UF and coauthor of “Ditch of Dreams,” winner of the Florida Historical Society’s 2010 Rembert Patrick Book Award and the Gulf South Historical 2010 Book Award.

The event is part of Viva Florida 500, a Florida Department of State initiative to highlight 500 years of history, people, places and events since Ponce de León’s arrival to the land he named La Florida in 1513.

“Celebrating La Florida” guests will receive a discounted value admission to the Florida Museum’s “Titanoboa: Monster Snake” and Butterfly Rainforest exhibits with proof of event attendance. For more information, visit or call 352-846-2000.


Writer: Kate Schofield,
Source: Meredith Morris-Babb, 352-392-1351
Media contact: Teal Amthor-Shaffer, 352-392-1351, ext. 209;