First Colony: Our Spanish Origins

First Colony: Our Spanish Origins is a 2,700 square foot traveling exhibition developed by the Florida Museum of Natural History, designed by HealyKohler Design, and produced by Malone Design/Fabrication. In 1565, forty-two years before the founding of Jamestown, St. Augustine, FL was established by Spain as the first permanent European settlement in the United States. Immersive dioramas and recreated environments carry the visitor through time along this chronological and thematic exhibition. After crossing the Atlantic, the visitor emerges with the landing party from the ship to establish a colony. Life in the new colony was not without conflict. Confrontations from the native Timucua people and rival Europeans, presented the colony with many challenges for a number of years. Slowly confrontations gave way to a convergence of Spanish, Indian, and African cultures, creating a unique society in colonial North America. A scenic cross-section of an archeological site and a large touchscreen interactive of an archeological dig teach visitors how scientists literally unearth history. Visitors walk through recreated Timucuan huts and Spanish dwellings. An architectural blending of the two illustrates the blending of cultures. Vignettes of daily life are presented inside these structures as religion, social life, economics, and foodways are interpreted through a variety of interactives, artifacts, and graphics printed directly on stucco and wood finishes. The visitor experiences military history through a recreated Spanish presidio. Finally, “Our Spanish Origins” are recapped in modern Florida through a film, as well as a variety of other interpretive media, as visitors see the continued influence of this distinct regional culture begun 450 years ago.

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