Recounting History Is Labor-Intensive

By Phelps, Bob | The Florida Times Union, June 19, 1997 | Go to article overview
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Recounting History Is Labor-Intensive

Phelps, Bob, The Florida Times Union

Todd Kelley, a Timucuan Indian history expert, cut wild

grapevines from a Jacksonville forest to construct the woven

Timucuan hut near the front of the "Currents of Time" exhibit at

the Museum of Science and History.

Kelley used an ax and fire technique that the Timucuan used to

hollow out a log for a dugout canoe in the Timucuan display.

These are examples of the painstaking effort and extensive

research that went into the construction, still in progress, at

the $1 million exhibit. Here are some other facts about the


Kelley hand-made all the deer-skin clothing, shell jewelry,

weapons and tools on the Timucuan display, except for real

artifacts exhumed from trash and 12,000-year-old burial mounds.

These are displayed behind Plexiglas.

Kelley armed the life-sized Timucuan mannequins with sharpened

fingernails and toenails because the Timucuan used them as


The floors in the area of earlier history are coated with a

ground quartz and epoxy mix to give them an earthen look.

Dan Heslep, mural artist whose work on projects at Universal

Studios and elsewhere, recreated larger-than-life-sized scenes

of the forest, the Spanish era, the British era and even the

late 19th century downtown.

The mannequins used in a model of the Mission de San Juan del

Puerto (on what is now Fort George Island) were given plastic

surgery to make them more ethnically accurate.

The coquina used to demonstrate construction of the Castillo de

San Marcos was donated by a Jacksonville man who had it in his

back yard.

The 18th century dock flooring was constructed with wooden pegs

of the period, instead of nails. The wooden portion of the ship

at the dock was given a black caulk between its timbers to

simulate the tar that was used to seal a ship.

The exhibit includes a cracker cabin made of rough-hewn timber.

However, Margo Dundon, executive director, said the museum chose

expediency over historical accuracy and sanded down the wood.

"We didn't want children going home with splinters or society

matrons snagging their clothes," she said. Timber for the cabin

was purchased from a family sawmill near the Okefenokee Swamp.

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Recounting History Is Labor-Intensive


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