Coastal Community Celebration last week

Admission is free to this little museum gem devoted to fishing culture

Burton/Bratton Store and Albion Inn
Little Drummer Boy — Someday this child may understand the significance of the historic Burton Store porch he was on during last week's celebration.

There are some great museums in Sarasota and Bradenton. The Ringling Museum and South Florida Museum immediately come to mind. There is a lesser known museum in Cortez that celebrates the history of the fishing town, the Florida Maritime Museum. Its celebration last week on the beginning of World Ocean’s Day featured the ribbon cutting for the Burton Store and the opening of the temporary interactive Meaning Behind Maritime exhibit.

The mission of this museum shares the town economic resource in that it is a fishing village. The importance is celebrated each year during the Commercial Fishing Festival in February that attracts thousands to this small coastal community in Manatee County. The museum's accomplishments in collecting, preserving and sharing maritime artifacts is deeply rooted in the mission.

Thursday marked the reopening of the historic Burton Store, the first commercial building within the village. Originally built in 1890 as a fishing dock storage shed, the store was enlarged and later expanded to become the Albion Inn. It was severely damaged by a hurricane in 1921. A portion was salvaged and moved in 2006 to its current location on museum grounds where the process of restoration began.

The Meaning Behind Maritime exhibit explores what maritime may mean to visitors. In one interactive display visitors use color string to tie together 24 different words to express the meaning of the word, maritime. So if the word boating is your choice, you can run your string between that and fishing. Continue to string as many words together until your maritime meaning is complete. Another part of this exhibit allows your toddler to be the captain of a boat. This exhibit ends July 19.

Cortez Coastal Community Celebration at the Florida Maritime Museum
Guest attendance was high during the Coastal Community Celebration at the Maritime Museum.

The next temporary exhibit will begin August 3 with a reception from 5:30 PM to 7 PM. It will feature the connection between Tarpon Springs and the Bahamas. Dr. Tina Bucuvalas will discuss the intertwined history of the Greek sponge industry of the two locations. Sponge gathering by the Greeks has been an important maritime business since the 19th century, explored in this exhibit that runs through February 2. Dr. Bucuvalas has been involved in writing five books on Greek culture.

There are permanent exhibits too in the one-time schoolhouse originally built in 1912. Have a docent guide you through the many artifacts of the museum or take a self-guided tour. Review the history of the village through photographs of what fishing meant to the citizens. Explore the use of their tools and commercial fishing gear.

Research Florida’s Gulf coast through the library of books in the museum. Museum members have the privilege of checking these manuscripts out of the library. The library houses many other records of the past. Start your journey on their website at FloridaMaritimeMuseum.org, where you can search the records and articles before your visit. The website displays many links to resources on coastal history.

Florida Maritime Museum 1912 Schoolhouse on the Cortez Nature Preserve
Florida Maritime Museum - On the grounds of the Cortez Nature Preserve, the renovated 1912 schoolhouse serves as a museum to preserve Florida fishing and maritime artifacts and knowledge.

Museum curators and experts give lectures on topics that reflect the Gulf coast heritage and its resources. Spaced about a month apart topics of dolphins, seagrass importance and SCUBA diving are scheduled. A traveling trunk is an interactive lecture for all ages, engaging those on an experience to explore an underwater archaeological find. There are also classes at its Folk School, starting with an interesting Painting With a Fish class tomorrow at 9:30 AM. Recipes are shared in their cooking classes. Other classes include such topics as Native Coastal Plants on June 22 at 10 AM. You can register for classes and pay tuition through FloridaMaritimeMuseum.org. If you have a topic to teach visit their website for an application.

The Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Courts sponsors the museum. Funding is also provided by donations and museum memberships. Volunteers aid the full-time staff of four in supporting the functions of the museum open daily from 9 AM to 4 PM. The museum closes on Sundays and Mondays, and Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends. The museum is also closed on Independence Day and at other times for maintenance. Kristin Sweeting is the museum supervisor, Alexis Schofield is the education & volunteer coordinator, Casey Wooster is the curator and Danielle Dankenbring is the visitor services coordinator. There are five members on the board of directors. Admission is free but donations are gladly accepted.

lionfish filet demonstration at Cortez Coastal Community Celebration
Invasive Species — A lionfish filet demonstration during the Coastal Community Celebration last week at the museum in Cortez.
Florida Maritime Museum displays
Large and small displays — There are many artifacts exhibited at the museum, some from local underwater archaeological discoveries.

Explore the museums in the area to better understand the culture and history of the area. Don’t forget this Manatee County gem that sits on four acres of land in the Cortez Nature Preserve. And when you are ready, please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing