Imagining la Florida
A new perspective about Florida during one of the most interesting and intense periods in U.S. History, the period between the expedition of Juan Ponce de León in 1513 and the building of Fort Mose in 1739.
The objective of Imagining la Florida. Juan Ponce de León and the Quest for the Fountain of Youth is to spread the importance that Spain had in the discovery and in the colonial past of this state; a rich and complex history that, to an extent, is unknown by both countries. The exhibition has been conceived to be visually attractive and it will let the visitors get to know some of the most relevant figures in this chapter in history.
The project is structured in four sections:
- The first section takes us to Seville, Spain on the eve of a trans-Atlantic voyage. Visitors enter a replica Spanish galleon as it prepares to depart to the New World. We learn about the navigational instruments, the technology, and the range of occupations of those who joined such expeditions.
- The first trips to Florida, since the 1513 expedition of Juan Ponce de León until the founding of San Agustín by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, more than five decades after. During these years, the successive Spanish expeditions penetrated very deeply into the southeast region of the United States, but despite the great efforts all of them failed. This section will take us to those tragic episodes, both enthralling and little known.
- Interactions between Indians, Europeans and Africans contributed to create a new society in Florida. This section highlights the complex relations among the inhabitants of this state, since the founding of the first Spanish permanent settlement (1565) until the building of the first fort with a garrison of free Africans, slaves that had run away from the British colonies (1738).
- The myth of the Fountain of Youth, since its first expressions in the 16th Century until the modern ones in popular culture. The idea in this section is to draw a line along the exceptional course of the most influent and durable myth of the Founding of the United States.
Opening reception on November 14th, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The evening includes live music, hors d’oeuvres, and a presentation by Florida historian and curator of the exhibit, Dr. J. Michael Francis.