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Current Exhibits

Rising Above the Rails Exhibit_Image courtesy State Archives of Florida

Rising Above the Rails–The African American Railroad Experience

January 24, 2020 – May 2, 2020

Naples Depot Museum

The African American railroad experience is one of hard work and little recognition. From forced labor and harsh conditions while tracklaying in the southeastern United States to the degrading treatment while traveling on the rails as porters and maintenance workers, African American history is intimately tied to the history of railroading in the United States.

In Rising Above the Rails, we highlight the oft-ignored stories, both local and national, of African Americans who used their experience to improve the lives of themselves, the African American community, and the railroading community overall.

History of Farming Pineapples Exhibit_Image Courtesy State Archives of Florida

History of Farming Pineapples, Hurricanes and Flagler’s Over-Sea Railroad

February 1 – 29, 2020

Marco Island Historical Museum

The sweet-tasting pineapple has a history that goes back to 1493 when Christopher Columbus first brought the exotic fruit back to the New World. Fast-forward 400 years to the South Florida where the pineapple was the primary cash crop, growing commercially in the Keys and Ten Thousand Islands. Over the course of nearly six decades, pineapple growing proved to be a lucrative business. Though profitable, pineapple farming would ultimately be compromised by a series of hurricanes that struck between 1906 and 1910. Henry Flagler’s Over-Sea Railroad, too, would prove a factor in the demise of the pineapple industry. To learn more about the history of pineapple farming, the families who grew them and how to grow your own pineapple plant, visit unique and educational exhibit.

Zora Neale Hurston_Painting by Paul Arsenault

Images and Stories of the Regional African American Experience Through the Eyes of an Artist

February 1 – 29, 2020

Marco Island Historical Museum

Please join the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) of Collier County, as they present images and stories relating to their regional heritage through the eyes of an artist.

Over the course of his 46 years as a Naples-based painter, Paul Arsenault has captured places of historical significance to the regional African American community, including the McDonald Quarters and Gordon Pass in Naples and the church and loggers’ cabins in Copeland.  Arsenault’s painting of Florida’s official Tall Ship, the “Western Union” is also on display. This ship inspired the replication of the slave ship “Amistad,” which has since 2007 sailed the Atlantic and the Caribbean as part of UNESCO’s Slave Route Project.

African American history and culture has been documented in writing by several writers, including Zora Neale Hurston, whose portrait is the title painting for this exhibit.

D'Ernest Johnson

No Limits—The Influence of Athletics on Collier County’s African American Community

February 3, 2020 – March 14, 2020

Collier Museum at Government Center

Did you know that Collier County is the home of many professional athletes? The Collier County Museum and Gulf Coast High School’s Digital Design and Art classes are collaborating on an exhibition that highlights the County’s African American athletes for Black History Month 2020. The exhibit features the professional athletes produced in this area, as well as the coaches and programs that helped them to hone their skills.

Deep Lake Crew

Black History of the Everglades City Area—Exploring Our Stories

February 3-March 14, 2020

Museum of the Everglades

This exhibit will explore often overlooked aspects of Everglades City history including Barron Collier’s multicultural work force, the contributions of African-American workers to the building of the Tamiami Trail, the labor forces at Dupont & Deep Lake, lumber camps at Copeland & Jerome, and more. It will also discuss the area as a refuge for runaway slaves and how Augustus Swycover – one of the area’s first permanent residents – ran a successful sugar plantation that pre-dated that of the town founders. There will also be a discussion of Henry Short, an African-American resident who is said to have fired the shot that killed legendary outlaw Edgar Watson.

Cultivating Community Exhibit

Cultivating Community—Stories of Immokalee’s African American Pillars and Pioneers

February 15 – May 16, 2020

Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch

They came for work. Laying rail, cutting timber, milling, and vegetable picking brought hard-working people south to the edge of Big Cypress. That there was work in Immokalee was known from Mississippi to Maryland. Teachers, preachers, and entrepreneurs followed. Not all would stay but eventually, a culturally rich, close-knit community grew. Cultivating Community explores this early history of Immokalee through the memories of its African American community members.