New Major Exhibit Installed – Spanish Exploration in Florida
DUNEDIN - Less than 35 years after Columbus reported the discovery of the North American continent the major European nations were already sending large parties to seek out the treasures which may be found. Now the Dunedin Historical Museum has opened a new exhibit which studies the Spanish exploration in the local area.
With the gracious loan of many 16th Century replica artifacts by local historian Lester Dailey, integrated with research and items from the museum’s collection, an extensive and interesting display has been installed.
“Spanish Exploration in Florida” covers many areas of the life of these men and women who were the first Europeans to walk the trails of La Florida, (the Land of Flowers). From life on shipboard to everyday life on shore, a rich impression of the dangers and their devotion their motto “For God and Gold” may be attained.
A display of weapons includes an armored breastplate, spiked war club, several kinds of swords, and knives. A chart shows how horses were transported, supported by a sling. Clothing such as rope sandals on view were worn both on the voyage and on land by many of the people. Examples of everyday camp life include cooking pots, hand carved ladles, mugs and spoons, clothing and other items used by the group. Time was kept by hourglasses and pocket sized sundials. Pottery and bottles were used for storage. A display of trade items such as brass framed mirrors show the planning which went into these voyages. Chests from tabletop to large storage sizes are elaborately carved.
Since one aspect of the expedition was to convert the native peoples to the Roman Catholic faith, there is also a section on religious items such as a “priest wrap”, chalices, and several crucifixes and an altar. The natives of the Pinellas area were known as the Timucuan Indians, and part of the display is devoted to them and their part in the journey.
A video presentation from the DeSoto Museum will be shown along with the artifacts.
In 1527-28 an expedition originated in the Tampa Bay led by Panfilo de Narvaez, who was appointed governor of Florida by Charles V. He had sailed from Spain withfive 5 ships and 700 men, and landed near the Rio de las Palmas, thought to be near Tampa Bay, with only 300 men surviving. Although he led a march northward, it was abandoned. In the end only eight members of his troop survived. Hernando DeSoto came to Florida in 1539-40 and explored the whole west coast, going on eventually to the Mississippi River. Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded St. Augustine in 1565. Two years later he was believed to have started a colony on the east side of the Pinellas peninsula along the shore of Tampa Bay, in what is now Philippe Park. This is now known as “The Lost Colony”.
Be sure to visit this new presentation by the Dunedin Historical Museum through Labor Day. The Museum is located at 349 Main Street in Dunedin.
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