Over 1,000 inquisitive visitors recently attended the free, public grand opening event for the exhibit welcoming the return of the world-famous Key Marco Cat. The day’s festivities included: a ribbon cutting ceremony, live music, storytelling, face painting, and several hands-on displays.
“This grand opening is a celebration to thank the community for its help in bringing these treasures home,” expressed Marco Island Historical Society (MIHS) Executive Director Patricia Rutledge.
“This exhibit is a culmination of a 25-year vision of the Marco Island Historical Society and the Marco Island Historical Museum staff has been working on this project for four years. It’s the realization of a dream held by the founders of the Marco Island Historical Society…a dream to have these artifacts on display. This museum was opened in 2010, but it was designed from the outset with the hopes of having these artifacts on display eventually. This unique room in the center of the building, a very bold statement, was designed for this purpose. People have been clamoring for the return of these artifacts. Here we are, nine years later, and they are finally here,” remarked MIHS Curator of Collections Austin Bell.
The exhibit signifies the return of rare Pre-Colombian Native American artifacts which were discovered in 1896 during archeologist Frank Hamilton Cushing’s expedition of Key Marco. Since their discovery by Cushing, the returning Key Marco artifacts have been in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of History and University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
“I’m here to once again see The Cat. With all these ‘new’ artifacts on display, I look forward to learning something new today,” smiles artist Theodore Morris, whose tribal paintings adorned the walls of the Marco Island Historical Museum (MIHM) in 2011. Morris works closely with archeologists and specializes in the tribes of Florida.
The exhibit will be at the Marco Island Historical Museum from January 2019 through April 2021. For upcoming events, exhibit updates, and more information, visit www.themihs.org or call 239-389-6447.
The Marco Island Historical Society is located at 180 S. Heathwood Drive, Marco Island. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM. Admission is free.