By Annie Farrell
Have you ever wanted to visit four national parks in one day?
Well, now you can. “This Land Is Your Land: A Second Century for America’s National Parks” is an exhibit at the Coral Gables Museum that allows visitors to dive into what makes South Florida’s four national park sites so remarkable.
It’s a historic time to take them all in. America’s National Park Service is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas national parks, along with Big Cypress National Preserve, have never looked better. The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 8, 2017, will inspire visitors to seek out each of these natural wonders in person after spending time at the museum.
With a 16-foot taxidermy wild crocodile from Everglades National Park presiding over the room, the exhibit groups the parks in pairs: Biscayne and Everglades national parks are displayed opposite of Dry Tortugas and Big Cypress. Narratives explain how each park came to be (or almost didn’t). The Everglades was jeopardized by urban sprawl and Big Cypress almost became a jetport. Photos of wildlife and scenery, natural and cultural artifacts, and short but insightful video documentaries bring the exhibit to life.
Along with a Roseate spoonbill, swallowtail butterfly, the Florida black bear and panther, and other wild inhabitants, the exhibit pays photographic tribute to distinct landmarks, such as Stiltsville in Biscayne National Park and Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas.
The front wall of the exhibit offers visitors historic background on the National Park Service and its goal to maintain America’s treasures for future generations. Along the back wall hangs artwork by Ohio artist Charley Harper. Harper was hired by the National Park Service in the 1950s to communicate the outstanding biological diversity of the Everglades, the first park created for its breadth of plant and animal life, not its scenic vistas. Harper’s modernist wildlife prints capture the Everglade’s distinct flora and fauna.
The Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon Ave., is open noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Museum entry is free for members and children under six or $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and $3 for children. More info at CoralGablesMuseum.org.