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Contact: Brittany Lesser

New Exhibit from Spain Coming to the Museum of Florida History

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner is pleased to announce the opening of a new temporary exhibit at the Museum of Florida History, Imagining La Florida: Ponce de León and the Quest for the Fountain of Youth, on November 13, 2013, at 5:30 p.m. The exhibit runs from November 14 to February 23, 2014. This immersive exhibit uses interactive technology to explain the perils of early Spanish exploration and the rich colonial history of Florida. Visitors can even step into an interactive floor display of the fountain of youth and view the effects on an interactive mirror display. The exhibit was organized by Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) of Spain and the Spain-Florida Foundation in collaboration with the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Spanish Consulate in Miami. It is curated by Florida historian Dr. J. Michael Francis and is one of the events at the Department of State commemorating VIVA Florida 500.

"This interactive exhibit takes advantage of contemporary technology to help visitors explore Florida’s early history through the lens of the Spanish explorers," said Secretary Detzner. "It recounts the dangers explorers risked and tells the story of Florida’s early history in an engaging four-part exhibit."

Curator Dr. J. Michael Francis said, "it is designed to open eyes and minds, highlighting one of the most intriguing and dramatic periods in U.S. History."

The first section begins in a replica Spanish galleon, where visitors learn about navigational tools, technology, and the myriad of occupations of crew members willing to traverse the Atlantic. An interactive animation of the sixteenth-century Arenal neighborhood, in Seville, Spain, depicts the launch point for many Spanish explorers.

The second section examines the voyages and landings of Spanish explorers, including Juan Ponce de León and Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, highlighting the diverse native cultures present in La Florida upon their arrival. Included in this section are four scale model galleons that will be returning to Spain after the exhibit closes.

The third section details the struggles faced by Europeans, Africans, and natives, all striving to create a stable society. Violent periods were interspersed with long periods of peace and coexistence, including the creation of the first free black settlement in the United States, Fort Mose.  An animation made from original maps takes visitors on a visual tour of sixteenth-century St. Augustine and the missions of San Sebastian and Nombre de Dios.

The final section narrates the origin and evolution of one of the most enduring foundation myths in the United States, Ponce de León’s quest for the fountain of youth. Visitors can walk through an interactive display of the fabled fountain of youth.

The Museum’s educational programs to complement the exhibit are funded in part by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council. Numerous scholars and authors specializing in Spanish colonial history and exploration will be featured. More information about programming may be obtained by calling the Museum or visiting the Museum website.

The Museum of Florida History is part of the Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs, and is located in the R. A. Gray Building at 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, Florida.  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.  Parking is available in the garage adjacent to the Museum and in nearby downtown garages.  For more information, contact 850.245.6400 or visit our website at