There are two temporary exhibits focusing on local history and culture currently on display at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science, 2201 Michigan Avenue, Cocoa.
“Cocoa: A Hometown History” is on display through May 5, and “A Time to Shine: Mismatched Items from the Permanent Collection” can be seen through March 31.
“We really want to explore the unique sides and aspects of the different towns within Brevard County, and it made sense to start with Cocoa, home of the Brevard Museum,” says museum manager Madeline Calise. “It led us to looking at the buildings that have stood since the beginning of settlement in the area, the people who made a big impact on the community, the large events, the different industries, the reasons people came to this area and how they made their livelihoods.”
The Cocoa exhibit includes historic photographs of building still standing, such as Travis Hardware Store, the oldest existing business in the city. The current building was constructed in 1907, but the business has been operating since the 1880s, making much of the growth of the area possible. Travis Hardware has supplied construction materials for early settlement, the land boom of the 1920s, and the growth associated with the Space Age.
The exhibit “Cocoa: A Hometown History” also focuses on other local businesses and institutions.
“There are some really neat speakers from the Vanguard Drive-In Theater,” says Calise. “There’s also a beautiful blanket donated from the Community Women’s Club that shows different buildings from Cocoa Village that you can still see, including the Cocoa Village Playhouse or the Aladdin Theater, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and the Community Women’s Center.”
Also on display is a “mosquito beater” made from palm fronds. A video showing as part of the Cocoa exhibit includes interviews with members of the Mosquito Beaters group, which holds their annual gathering every March. The group, founded by George “Speedy” Harrell, was originally organized for people who had lived in central Brevard County prior to 1950.
Most museums do not have enough display area to show all of the items in their permanent collections, and the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science is no exception.
The temporary exhibit “A Time to Shine: Mismatched Items from the Permanent Collection” includes everything from a fancy silver serving set, to a box for tourists to take home a live baby alligator, to Seminole Indian dolls.
“It’s in our larger exhibit hall, so you’ll get to see a large amount of items that are usually in storage and only get to be seen by staff and volunteers,” says Calise. “Going through our regular inventory we keep finding items that we think are really unique or interesting, or detailed, or particularly well made. We’d like to show them off, but we really haven’t had a specific exhibit to do that. This is going to be our favorite fun items in different collections that we’ve found within our permanent collection.”
The new temporary exhibit includes unique eyeglasses, handbags, and historic pharmaceutical bottles. There is also pre-automobile transportation on display.
“It’s a two seater buggy that would normally be drawn by one horse. We found it upstairs and thought that we had to include it,” says Calise.
The two temporary exhibits highlighting local history and culture join a wide variety of exhibits on permanent display at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science.
“The Ice Age exhibit covers the Megafauna and the Paleo-Hunters of that era from Florida, and specifically Brevard County,” says Calise. “We have a Cape Canaveral Lighthouse exhibit, and artifacts from the Taylor family. There’s a Florida history section that covers everything from Spanish exploration to the different industries within the area, including cattle, citrus, turpentine, and trains. There’s also the Hubble Space Telescope exhibit.”
The centerpiece of the museum is “The People of Windover” exhibit, looking at the discovery in Titusville of a pond cemetery between 7,000 and 8,000 years old. Hands-on activities augment displays of actual artifacts used by Archaic Age people in what would become Brevard County.
“We also have a butterfly garden, and 22 acres of Florida nature trails,” says Calise.
The museum is open Thursday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm.