Exhibits in the Environmental Wing are designed to educate all visitors about Florida’s environment incorporating the past, present and future. The message of the three exhibits; Riverine, Pine Uplands and Estuary focus on environmental awareness and what can be done to protect Florida’s fragile ecosystems. As more people move into our region, it is imperative that the South Florida Museum focuses on environmental education so that we move forward into the future with knowledge that will safeguard our wild places.
The Riverine exhibit begins with the headwaters of the Manatee River and is designed to explore the various life forms that make this brackish water home. The exhibit, with mural to illustrate the natural habitat of deep woods and riverbank, is elevated to give the visitor a window to the underwater habitat. Interpretation focuses on the various species of aquatic life and land animals that live in and near the river. The exhibit encourages study and conversation about the salinity of the water from the river’s source to Tampa Bay, the animals that inhabit the region and how to protect our natural environment.
The purpose of the Pine Uplands exhibit is to educate visitors about Florida’s environment from the past to present through a multi-layered exhibit that explores the different habitats and natural cycles of the environment of Florida’s central/west coast region.
The exhibit features a depiction of old growth pine forest in mural and in fabricated pine saplings and other trees and foliage suitable to the time and climate. A pioneer cabin illustrates lifestyle of the late 19th century and interprets how man began to impact the environment through clearing and agriculture. Exhibit interpretation compares old growth forest to modern day environment. A small area interprets how the natural cycles of burn continue to control the growth and restoration of the environment. The exhibit presents a variety of habitats: scrub (pine), flatwood (pine), burn areas (charred with new growth), and wetlands (oak) cypress swamp. The exhibit follows a natural sequence of dry prairie to wetlands.
The largest exhibit in the Environmental Wing is designed to provide an educational experience for tours, school groups or individual exploration and study.
The Estuary habitat exhibit completes the story of the flow of water from the Pine Uplands and Riverine exhibits. The Estuary exhibit focuses on the immense biodiversity found in Florida estuaries and how the estuaries are nurseries for almost everything found in Florida waters. The exhibit allows visitors to immerse themselves in a mangrove prop root forest and encounter diverse species of marine life that is rarely explained or photographed. A total of 2,037 sculpted pieces will include mangrove roots, seedlings, leaves, barnacles, algae, sponges, anemones, crustaceans and fish to provide a dramatic and unique perspective of Florida’s estuaries.
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