The Museum staff has a wealth of information and are available to share it with your group or organization. Through our Museum of Florida History Speakers Bureau, our curators and other staff members will offer presentations on a variety of topics on Florida history and other museum-related subjects. If you are interested in scheduling a presentation, please click here to complete a brief form and Museum staff will contact you to make arrangements.
The Florida Highwaymen—African American Landscape Painters
Senior Curator Michelle Hearn presents the story of the Florida Highwaymen, a group of African American artists who emerged from the then-rural agricultural communities of Fort Pierce, Gifford, and Vero Beach on the Atlantic Coast in the early 1950s. During the Jim Crow era, schools, businesses, and communities were segregated by race. Although some African Americans were able to go to college, most were relegated to a life of manual labor in the orange groves, tomato fields, or packing house. To expand their opportunities, these young artists became entrepreneurs. They began selling their creations to businesses, tourists, and new homeowners in the postwar boom years, when Florida’s population grew dramatically. In the process of making a living through painting, they made a significant contribution to the genre of Florida landscape painting, helped to form an idealized vision of the state, and crossed racial divides.
Civil Rights in the Sunshine State
Senior Curator Michelle Hearn examines civil rights in the Sunshine State and the deep history of Black activism and the multi-generational effort of men and women, whose courage and sacrifice pushed back against centuries of institutionalized racism. This presentation explores these cultural changes as Floridians redefined what was meant by justice, race, and democracy, concepts which are key to our identity as a people. From Miami to Tallahassee and St. Petersburg to St. Augustine, the Florida movement is explored at the local, state, and national levels. The presentation discusses the struggle of African Americans for equality in Florida from the end of Reconstruction (1877) through the modern civil rights movement.
Roosevelt’s Tree Army in Florida
By the 1930s, millions of acres of Florida land were devastated by clear-cutting, poor farming practices, and phosphate mining. Many small farmers were destitute, and unemployment was widespread. Senior curator Michelle Hearn discusses the role of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in massive reforestation efforts, the establishment of the Florida state park system, and infrastructure projects. About 40,000 young men served in Florida’s CCC units, allowing them to support their families during the Depression.
Florida Women’s Activism
Senior curator Lisa Dunbar shares the history of women’s activism in Florida from the late 19th century to the modern era. Women have been at the forefront of activism in Florida since the late 1800s, before they even had the vote. This presentation discusses the history of Florida women’s activism in a variety of areas including suffrage, the environment, civil rights, and more.
How to Care for Your Family Artifacts
Senior registrar Amberly Meli provides useful tips on caring for your family heirlooms. Learn how to clean, store, and safely display a wide variety of objects from your artwork and photographs to clothing and quilts.