Display Art, Exhibit Review, Florida, Manatees, Museums, Object Veneration, Public History

South Florida Museum aka Snooty’s House

The South Florida Museum is a strange museum. (strange is good, in most cases) The museum contains a history/archeology museum, a manatee aquarium, and a planetarium, and hosts various community events and fundraisers.

I love manatees, but I am going to go over the museum’s non-manatee related aspects before I gush over Snooty. Knowing where Snooty lives in the museum I tried to avoid him until the very end- and was delightfully surprise with what I saw.

Entering the museum guests first see a Wooly Mammoth. My first assumption was that the museum was going to take me through the evolutionary process that created manatees, knowing elephants and manatees are related in some way. Turns out I was wrong (surprised, nope). The exhibit begins in prehistoric Florida, introducing guests to archeology in the area, displaying dino bones, and engaging graphics. The exhibit leads into pre-European contact Florida and filters outside into a Spanish style courtyard representing colonization. From the Mammoth to the Spanish courtyard the exhibit uses recognizable objects and scenes to build an association between change over time and advancement of material construction.


On the second floor the museum focuses on more modern Floridian history. The exhibits on the second floor include maritime history, medical, an art gallery, and a few taxidermy aquatic sea creatures.

My favorite part of the second floor is the Visual Storage. Steven Conn famously discusses museum’s move away from displaying historical objects, preferring more hands on or educational displays. The majority of the SFM takes part in this trend. The new museum style places object collections in storage. (Recall the storage hanger at the end of Raider of the Lost Ark.) However, The SFM’s Visual Storage exhibit allows guests access to the museum’s unused collections. While this may seem very innovate the actual set up is a classic. (Things in glass cases with informational cards) Reverting back to old museum displays in this area allows the museum to use modern exhibit techniques and still satisfy their guests desire to see objects. The museum is an excellent place to learn about museum history and get a visual understanding of the trends Conn and others are talking about now.


I got this from the museum’s page.http://www.southfloridamuseum.org/

Snooty is the world’s oldest manatee. He was born in captivity sixty four years ago and does not have any skills for taking care of himself outside of the tank. He is a lot like an indoor cat, or someone who has never been camping. However, Snooty is not doomed to a life of solitude!  The museum takes in and rehabilitees other manatees who share the tank with Snooty. Snooty eats from his caretaker’s hands, and loves broccoli, he also has amazing back muscles and can pull himself up-on the edge of the pool. Snooty is a buff manatee.

Enjoy these.



He fears NO speed Boats!


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