The Tallahassee Museum of History and Science had its start as the Tallahassee Junior Museum in 1958 in a home located in the downtown area of Florida's capital city. In 1960, the museum board purchased 10 acres on Lake Bradford and set about designing a plan for a new and larger museum that would allow visitors to explore not only the history of the area but also science, nature, and conservation in a hands-on manner.
The new Tallahassee Museum of History and Science began with a farm exhibit and expanded by 1962 to include four buildings - three for exhibits and one that served as a classroom for the museum's nationally accredited preschool program, which has been in operation since 1968. In 1972, additional acreage was purchased in order to accommodate the museum's growing collection of small animals.
Big Bend Farm, the first exhibit to be opened to the public, lets visitors experience life on an 1880s farm. Guests can explore crops, interact with farm animals, walk among reconstructed and restored farm buildings, and learn about milling, blacksmithing, and syrup making.
At the Old Florida exhibit, visitors will view several 19th and early 20th century buildings that serve as display galleries for artifacts from that era. The buildings include an 1890s school, a church built in 1937, and several structures from a 19th century cotton plantation. The importance of railroads during that era is explained in an exhibit displayed inside a 1920s-era caboose.
The Natural Florida exhibit allows museum patrons to peruse a colorful butterfly garden and travel along a half-mile nature trail that winds through a variety of interesting habitats, providing an opportunity to view up close the flora and fauna of this portion of the Sunshine State.
Along the elevated boardwalks of Wildlife Florida, guests enjoy a zoo full of animals that are indigenous to the state. Included in that collection of animals are Florida panthers, black bears, red foxes, river otters, bobcats, the American alligator and many others. There's also an aviary featuring amazing birds of prey, a turtle pond, and an outdoor classroom where visitors can learn about a variety of reptiles.
Other buildings within the Tallahassee Museum of History and Science include the Phipps Gallery, which displays changing exhibits dealing with art and popular culture; the Discovery Center, a hands-on, interactive area that's a favorite with children; the Fleischmann Natural Science Building, home to two freshwater aquariums; and the Guest Animal Habitat, which brings animals from all around the world to Tallahassee on a rotating basis.
An onsite museum store offers nature- and science-related items, gifts, souvenirs, and books, and the Trail Break Caf‚ sells sandwiches, snacks, and special kid's meals for young visitors. It also offers catering service to groups leasing the museum for special events.
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