Explore the Tallahassee Museum

by: Doug Alderson, Outdoor & Nature Expert

I see ghosts at the Tallahassee Museum. Having worked there for several years in the 1990s, past images of people and events come to me as I walk around the historic farm, schoolhouse, church and plantation home. But it doesn't take long for the past to evaporate. Stroll the museum grounds when school groups are visiting or on a weekend afternoon or holiday, and the excited cries and exclamations of children and adults helps me to embrace what the Tallahassee Museum is today-a fun educational facility that continues to deliver value to area residents and their guests.

Most of the individual animals are different than when I worked there, but they still have charm and personality. And in walking the grounds, there is more stimulation because people are zip lining and walking obstacle courses on lines overhead. The Tallahassee Museum has become more multi-dimensional, appealing to broader age groups.

Besides the zip lines, the museum is where history and natural history intersect. The museum was established in 1957 and soon after moving to Lake Bradford in the early 1960s, several historic buildings were moved onto the property. They include the Bellevue Plantation House, home to Princess Murat, George Washington's great-grandniece and also Tallahassee's claim to French nobility since she was married to Napoleon's nephew, Achille Murat. A slave cabin and adjoining kitchen has been added to the house in recent years to create more authenticity.

Nearby is the historic 1937 Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church and 1890s Concord school house. The red Seaboard Air Line caboose, a favorite for kids, still sits in its usual spot. The 1880s era farm has several authentic log cabins. To gaze into the main farmhouse is to ponder life in an earlier frontier era, and how the original family raised nine children.

There are rotating art and historic exhibits in the Phipps Gallery, hands-on activities in the Discovery Center, and more exhibits and a bird window in the Fleishmann Natural Science Building (Bird Room). Plus, Jim Gary's life-size dinosaurs, welded together from auto and truck parts and once a popular temporary exhibit when I worked there, are now on permanently on display and situated in strategic locations.

The zoo trail boasts a panther, bear, deer, turkeys, fox, skunks, red wolves, birds of prey and the ever playful otters. The Tallahassee Museum is open 9 to 5 Monday through Saturday and 11 to 5 on Sunday. Special events are held throughout the year and the museum sponsors a popular summer camp. To learn more, log onto http://tallahasseemuseum.org/.

Doug Alderson. Outdoor & Nature Expert from Tallahassee, FL Author:

Doug Alderson

Outdoor & Nature Expert


Doug Alderson is the author of several books, including Waters Less Traveled: Exploring Florida's Big Bend Coast (University Press of Florida 2005), The Vision Keepers: Walking for Native Americans and the Earth (Quest Books 2007), New Dawn for the Kissimmee River: Orlando to Okeechobee by Kayak (University Press of Florida, 2009), Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife (University Press of Florida, 2010), and his newest book, Wild Florida Waters: Exploring the Sunshine State by Kayak and Canoe (Earthways Press, 2011). Additionally, his articles and photographs have been featured in magazines such as Sea Kayaker, Coast and Kayak, Wildlife Conservation, American Forests, Sierra, Mother Earth News and Shaman's Drum. He has won several state and national awards for his books and magazine features. Doug also works as the paddling trails coordinator for the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.

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