Though the Historical Museum of Southern Florida did not open until 1962, its foundation began to grow in 1940 with the development of the Historical Association of Southern Florida. The mission of the museum is to tell the stories of South Florida and the Caribbean and to promote an understanding of the past in order to create a better quality of life.
The current location is a vast 40,000 square feet. The facility provides temporary and permanent exhibition space, classrooms, a Research Center, a theater, a museum store, offices as well as controlled collections storage.
The Historical Museum of Southern Florida holds collections which relate to Southern Florida and the Caribbean area’s past, present and future. The span of the collection encompasses Southeast Florida as well as Caribbean areas which have influenced Southern Florida. The collection also covers cultures of people who have influenced the Southern Floridians such as Cubans, Haitians, Bahamians as well as Native Americans. Lastly, the collections cover aviation, maritime history, tourism and other trends that have shaped South Florida.
The Research Center
A remarkable research center is also available at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida which houses the Tebeau Library and the Wilkins Archives. This center consists of the museum’s research and archives and is open to the public.
Take a walk in the past as you journey through the object collections which hold artifacts from Native American tribes such as the Seminoles and Miccosukees. Check out actual uniforms as well as model planes from the Pan Am Collection. Local communities have also donated musical instruments as well as religious artifacts from the area. The collection’s archaeological materials date from 10,000 years ago to the early 20th century.
A key to the area’s history are the publications which are held and published by the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. These periodicals include Tequesta, South Florida History and Update; they include reprints of local classics as well as some original works.
“Tropical Dreams: A People’s History of South Florida” is the permanent exhibition at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. This exhibition takes visitors through South Florida history from prehistoric times to the present. Also temporarily available are the “Crime in Miami” as well as the “Illustrating Justice The Courtroom Art of Shirley Henderson” exhibits.