What do Muhammad Ali, Bob Marley, ancient Indian villages and the Beatles have in common?
Which museum in Miami most completely celebrates the people and places of Miami — past, present and future?
Which museum in Miami should be the most important to the residents and visitors of our great city?
The answer to all those questions is HistoryMiami. Officially known as the Historical Society of South Florida and located downtown immediately south of County Hall, HistoryMiami has been reborn.
That rebirth has occurred during the past two years, through the hard work and dedication of its board of trustees, professional management and exemplary staff. While the Science Museum and Perez Art Museum Miami — PAMM — have been building beautiful facilities in the new museum park, HistoryMiami has not-so-quietly been building a refreshed and vibrant history museum.
That vibrancy has transformed HistoryMiami into the leading history museum of relevance and importance.
This transformation has manifested itself through several exciting exhibitions, including the recent Bob Marley exhibition and the Cassius Clay/Sonny Liston 50th anniversary exhibit and roundtable discussion. The latter featured local resident Dr. Ferdie Pacheco and members of the Dundee family, also longtime Miami residents. Boxing enthusiasts from across the country were in attendance. HistoryMiami also developed and first exhibited the guayabera exhibition, one of the museum’s best ever attended shows. This award-winning exhibit now travels the country.
HistoryMiami also annually hosts the MapFair, the largest such event in the country. Recent symposium topics have included Abraham Lincoln, the Bay of Pigs and the civil-rights movement in Miami. The Six-Day War will be addressed in an upcoming symposium. Public forums discussing Stand Your Ground and gaming in Miami have also been well attended.
What curatorial mission could be more important to our citizens than documenting, collecting, exhibiting and celebrating the People and Places of Miami-Dade County and Greater South Florida?
Our new vision also includes substantial community engagement. For example, HistoryMiami recently assisted the parties and stakeholders involved in the dispute concerning development upon a Tequesta Indian site at the mouth of the Miami River. HistoryMiami played a pivotal role in forging the global settlement of that important issue, including agreement and support from the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County.
That agreement provides that space be offered at the development site specifically dedicated to preserve a portion of that site, including artifacts from Henry Flagler’s Royal Palm Hotel. Said otherwise, community leaders now clearly recognize the role and professionalism of HistoryMiami in the protection and preservation of important historical places and artifacts.
The diversity and success of these events and undertakings highlight the new HistoryMiami. The renewed excitement and vibrancy are due in part to our new management team installed a year ago and in part to the rededication and commitment of our board of trustees.
Our new vision is designed to engage, entertain and attract every resident of and visitor to South Florida because each is, by definition, a part of the history of South Florida. Our vision is designed to identify, highlight, document and display our history, famous and infamous, for all to appreciate.
Our vision includes a public forum allowing our facility to be a focal point for relevant topics of civic interest and debate for every citizen and visitor. It focuses on the people and places of our great city and Greater South Florida.
Because the preservation, collection and exhibition of each story is history. Those combined stories represent our history.
Help us preserve and tell our collective stories. Help us tell the story of our great city. Become a supporter and member of HistoryMiami.
Phillip M. Hudson III is incoming chairman of HistoryMiami.