by David Higgins, Facilities Manager
CHE HUN TAMO
To the Seminole Tribe of Florida the camp fire is a symbol of life. It burns continuously, 24/7. It is a reflection of family, life, and growth to the Seminole people. As the camp fire continues to burn the Seminole people continue to grow; when the Seminole people grow so does the Seminole Tribe.
Fig 1: Seminole Camp Fire in front of the Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum
As the Seminole Camp Fire burns the Seminole Tribe grows. The Seminole Tribe had a vision to build a museum to hold their artifacts and collections. They wanted a place that would tell their story. A place that Tribal members and visitors alike could go and learn of their history and the times they endured from stories and visions of their elders and ancestors. They built the museum on the land which their great leader “Abiaki” roamed, lived, and was buried near. The first concept rendering of the museum originated around 1989 and depicted many buildings built around the cypress dome. It had a dirt walkway which connected the buildings to the main building, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.
Fig 2: A colored picture of the first concept rendering of the museum and its buildings
Fig 3: The first concept rendering of the museum and its buildings
As the Seminole Camp Fire burns the Seminole Tribe grows. The main Museum building was built first and located near the spot the original concept showed the building to be. It opened its doors on August 21st 1997. The Museum will be celebrating its 20 year anniversary on August 21st 2017.
As the Seminole Camp Fire burns the Seminole Tribe grows. Soon they built the second building which was the Curatorial Building. This building opened its doors three years after the Museum and it contains some office space, vaults, and a lab. Two years after the curatorial building was built, they placed a temporary modular office to house the Tribal Historic Preservation Office and additional museum staff.
Fig 4: Temporary office building for the Tribal Historic Preservation Office.
As the Seminole Camp Fire burns the Seminole Tribe grows. Although the buildings and their placements from the original concept has changed, the idea to expand the campus still existed within the Seminole Tribe. The temporary office was not so temporary—it is falling apart and has outlived its useful life. The outdoor restrooms and maintenance shop are insufficient and falling apart.
Now, twenty years after the Museum opened its doors, other buildings from the original concept are coming to life. In the next few weeks the Seminole Tribe will begin to build a new Tribal Historic Preservation and Museum office building. It will contain office space, a vault, and an archaeological lab. They will build a maintenance shop to give the exhibits department and maintenance team an area to build exhibits, take care of equipment, and allow for ample on-site storage. They are adding a restroom in the visitor’s parking lot to help with the visitors, groups, and schools groups which visit and tour their museum.
Fig 5, 6, & 7: Concept drawings of the new Tribal Historic Preservation Office
Fig 8: Concept drawing of the rest rooms in the visitor’s parking lot area
As the Seminole Camp Fire burns the Seminole Tribe grows. The Museum was named the Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum which means “a place to learn, a place to remember”. In August of 2017, the Seminole Tribe of Florida will be celebrating their 60th year anniversary. The Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Museum staff would like to invite you to come and visit their museum. To learn and remember what the Seminole people and their Tribe has endured, overcome, and accomplished. To watch the Seminole camp fire burn and watch the Seminole Tribe grow with a vision that started over twenty years ago. To watch the concept of the museum grow and be fulfilled with the new buildings as they are built. Come and help us celebrate our 20th anniversary and join us as we walk into the future in our beautiful expanded campus. Check out the Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum’s website http://www.ahtahthiki.com/ , Twitter, and Facebook for more information on our upcoming exhibits, programs, and events!
Sho Na Bish