When visiting a museum, you cannot help but wonder what the history an item holds beyond the descriptions being displayed. It’s a treat when you get the opportunity to walk with a direct relative who contributed to Marco Island Historical Museum’s (MIHM) very own artifact collection, recently displayed in the Pioneer Era Exhibit. Will Smith and his wife Connie visited Marco Island to have the chance to walk through and witness new artifacts added to the Museum. There are three permanent exhibits currently on display – Paradise Found, Pioneer Days, and Modern Marco. The permanent exhibit gallery was developed in collaboration with Collier County Museums and the Marco Island Historical Society (MIHS).
To this day, they are still uncovering more history to piece the storyline together. The MIHM has restored photos and archived the diaries to be available for museum-goers to read. These were the original copies that stand in display. Smith believes that “Everything from Marco, belonged on Marco.” Down to the last trunk, Will and Connie get to explore what life was like in the low-tech days. Some items are worth keeping and others are disposable. Not everything is worth keeping or historic, but it is all still worthy of reviewing. “There is plenty of opportunity to correct information as history still unfolds for us.” Smith said.
The couple currently resides in the Chicago area and made their way to the warmer state with the accommodations by MIHS co-chairman board member Betsy Perdichizzi and her husband Bill. There are three diaries and a total of seven trunks, all filled with historic memorabilia from when the local area was still in its early development stages. Smith is related to the Olds family, a pioneer family that influenced development of Marco Island. History is a web of connections and shines light on what life was like when the Calusa Indians stood tall, and the more-present Aunt Sal recollected her stories to Will when he was a young boy.
The Marco Cat was the display that built much anticipation for Will to show Connie. This was Connie’s first experience through the MIHM. As we continued through the new exhibit and viewed photos of the Olds sisters, Smith recounted stories of his aunt moving with her sisters to the area. The mother taught a variety of languages, such as Hebrew and Latin, and other courses like social studies. This progressive nature was instilled in the girls, making their spirits adventurous. The best part of the experience was witnessing Will recognize people in photos throughout the museum.
As we learn from our history, much continues to be revealed, even to this day. The Pioneer Exhibit is a magnificent representation of the MIHM’s efforts to preserve Marco’s unique history for its residents and visitors. The exhibit tells the story of the area’s first families – Barfield, Olds, Collier, Burnham, Doxsee and many others.
The Marco Island Historical Museum is located at 180 S. Heathwood Drive. The MIHM is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM – 4 PM. Admission is free and the site is handicapped accessible. For information visit www.colliermuseums.com or call 239-642-1440.