The new exhibit at the Tampa Bay History Center, ‘A History of Conservation: A Bird’s Eye View,’ is presented in collaboration with the Audubon Florida’s Coastal Islands Sanctuaries. The exhibit, which will run through February 10, 2019, highlights birdlife in Florida and the conservation movement in the Tampa Bay area.
Artifacts featured in the exhibit trace both humankind’s reverence for and decimation of Florida’s avifauna, along with the evolution of conservation efforts in Tampa Bay.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, naturalists such as Mark Catesby and John Adams Audubon traversed Florida, carefully drawing accurate portraits of spoonbills, herons and other birds. The exhibit will feature the book, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, by Mark Catesby which was first published in 1731. It will also feature historic ornithological prints by local artist and Valrico resident, John Costin.
“Florida’s environment has been a draw for naturalists and artists for centuries,” said Rodney Kite-Powell, the Tampa Bay History Center’s curator of history.
The exhibit will also feature items such as Victorian domed taxidermy birds, a collection of rare egret feathers and an egg collection. These items were collected by hunters who would kill nesting birds to provide colorful feathers for women’s hats. The activities threatened to wipe out some Florida species and are no longer legal.
“The incredible diversity of plant and animal species, especially birds, also enticed those who would do harm to the environment, particularly the bird and plume hunters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” added Kite-Powell.
The exhibit also features a ‘cartonnage’ fragment which dates back to 1070 B.C., featuring a hieroglyphic depicting a heron, a symbol ancient Egyptians associated with creation and rebirth.
The exhibit also traces Florida’s role in the birth of Florida’s and the nation’s modern conservation movement, including the founding of the Florida Audubon Society. You can see uniforms and equipment used by Florida’s early game wardens as well as the local entities and agencies involved in Tampa Bay’s wildlife and water quality recovery and protection.
The Tampa Bay History Center is located at 801 Old Water Street in Tampa’s Channel District. Tickets for admission start at $10.95 for children seven and up. Admission is free for children six and under.
For more information, please visit www.tampabayhistorycenter.org or call 228-0097.