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Contact: Chris Cate

Secretary Detzner Announces Opening of New Museum of Florida History Exhibit: Ships, Sailors and Shipwrecks of Civil War Florida

Exhibit opens May 1, 2012 and extends through August 5, 2012

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner today announced the opening of a new exhibit at the Museum of Florida History that explores Florida’s maritime and naval history during the Civil War. The exhibit, called Ships, Sailors and Shipwrecks of Civil War Florida, opens on May 1, 2012 and extends through August 5, 2012.

“Florida’s maritime and naval history during the Civil War is often overlooked, but our state was the location of numerous naval events during the Civil War era,” said Secretary Detzner. “I encourage anyone with a love of history and historic ships to visit the Museum of Florida History and see this exhibit.”

The Museum of Florida History’s traveling exhibit, The Maple Leaf, will be a major component of the new exhibit, but significant enhancements have been added to create an extensive portrait of Florida’s water-based history in the Civil War. The Maple Leaf was a Union army transport ship which was sunk after striking a Confederate torpedo mine.  After it sank, the ship lay in the St. John’s River until 1984, when it was rediscovered and partially excavated by Dr. Keith Holland and the St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions, Inc., along with archaeologists from East Carolina University.  The ship’s contents, encased by the river’s muddy bottom, provide a time capsule of this period and offer a glimpse into previously undocumented aspects of the war and its effects on northeastern Florida.

Additional components of the exhibit include a video about the Maple Leaf and recovered artifacts from the vessel. The objects are on loan from the Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources.  Additional artifacts include a rare naval sword carried by an officer on the CSS Florida, which is on loan from the Smithsonian Institution. Visitors can also view a film about the privateer vessel Jefferson Davis, illustrations of Florida scenes from Harper’s Weekly newspaper, a map of 50 Civil War shipwrecks in Florida and an interactive kiosk about the ships.

Ships, Sailors and Shipwrecks of Civil War Florida will help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. To learn more about the state’s role in the Civil War, visitors may visit the museum’s permanent exhibit called Florida in the Civil War, request a copy of The Florida Civil War Heritage Trail guidebook or attend programs developed in conjunction with the exhibit. Additionally, on May 17, 2012, Dr. Keith Holland will speak at the Museum about his experiences in locating the Maple Leaf.

About the Museum of Florida History

Opened in 1977, the Museum of Florida History, managed by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs, collects, preserves, exhibits, and interprets evidence of past and present cultures in Florida and promotes knowledge and appreciation of this heritage. As the state history museum, it focuses on artifacts and eras unique to Florida's development and on roles that Floridians have played in national and global events. Through exhibits, educational programs, research and collections, the museum reflects the ways that people have shaped and reacted to their cultural and natural environments. The museum is located in the R. A. Gray Building at 500 South Bronough Street in Tallahassee, Florida. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. To 4:30 p.m.; Sunday and holidays, noon to 4:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit the museum’s website at