An Engaging Museum Visit

By Virginia Yarce, Development Assistant

A glimpse behind the scenes.  A quirky back story.  An interesting insight.  When I go to Museums, I cherish these types of interactions, usually from a staff member taking a moment to share.  These exchanges have been happening more frequently here at the Museum, as the Visitor Services team strives to constantly engage with the community and with our visitors.    Keep reading for a virtual tour of some recent happenings!

If you have visited the Museum lately, you might have bumped into our Outreach team out at the newly transformed area now called the “hunting camp” (towards the back of the picnic area behind the Museum, or after marker 53 from the Boardwalk).   This living display offers opportunities to interact with the Outreach staff at times when they are not conducting off-campus presentations.

Here, Seminole artist and filmmaker Samuel Tommie visits with Rey Becerra as the camp begins to take form:image 1

During my ad hoc visit, Daniel Tommie, Sam’s brother and newest member of the Visitor Services team, shared how the hunters would bring back the entire bunch of bananas and hang it at the camp while it ripens (random fact: a “bunch” of bananas you buy at the store is technically called a “hand” of bananas, and a bunch of hands still connected to the branch is the actually a “bunch” of bananas).

Here, you can see Jeremiah Hall’s team of chickee builders adding life to the hunting camp lean-to, which is designed to demonstrate a how Seminoles adapted the chickee for even shorter-term use.  Did you know that it can be up to 10% cooler under the thatched-roof of a chickee?

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Can you spot Daniel Tommie in the background below as he takes the hunting camp canoe out for a ride in the cypress dome?  Visitors may not have a chance for some interesting side-bar talk with Daniel while he is out on the water, but it makes for some fun conversation later and great snapshots along the Boardwalk!

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Visitors sometimes bump into Rey for some random conversation as he prepares for a wildlife demonstration or tools of war presentation.  Here, Rey enjoys chatting with visitors while he waits for a tour group to finish lunch:

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Rey has a contagious laugh and many fascinating stories to share about his years of experience working with wildlife!

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Over the summer, visitors have been enjoying our series of intentionally interactive, family fun during the “Seminole Summer Fun” special programming days on select Saturdays (stay tuned to Facebook events for future engagements: https://www.facebook.com/Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki-Seminole-Museum-43650959681/events).

Tour guide Wilse Bruisedhead shares the back story of those fancy “hearts of palm” sold at the grocery store.  Pictured below is the heart of the palm, known as “swamp cabbage”, which visitors could taste (freshly harvested and boiled) during our “Everglades Survival Day”!

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Here Wilse demonstrates “gigging”, so visitors could try their hand at this “everglades survival” technique.  How hard can it be to spear a fish or a frog as a hunting technique??

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In preparation for “Rodeo Day”, Wilse demonstrates rope-making with various Museum staff and volunteers.  (Check out his description of how it is done here: https://www.facebook.com/Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki-Seminole-Museum-43650959681/videos).  Everyone who walked past the front desk was intrigued!

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Wilse is always engaged with activities at the front desk, and enjoys sharing insights with visitors.  Here he is carving the “man on a horse” symbol on a handle for a Florida cow-whip (check out Wilse doing an impromptu demonstration in front of the Museum here: https://www.facebook.com/Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki-Seminole-Museum-43650959681/videos )

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In addition to the line-up of special programs, visitors may start to see more staff walking through the galleries ready to answer questions or just share a greeting and a smile, out on the boardwalk getting some fresh air and studying the flora and fauna, or even having a little fun browsing all the new merchandise in the Museum store.

Visitors here catch a chance to hear insights about Seminole survival when they bump into Melanie in the West Gallery:

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Below, a visitor from Ohio enjoys an opportunity to chat with Linda Frank, one of our Village artisans, making a traditional sweetgrass basket:

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Happy staff enjoy showing off the “magic sunglasses” available for purchase in our Museum store and how they pop with color when taking them out into the Florida sun:

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Museum staff are always ready to share a little fun, or some small talk about big topics with Museum visitors.  We hope your next visit to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is full of engaging and interactive experiences!

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