Thought it was opened just in 2012, the Harn Museum of Art's 26,000-square foot David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing has quite a bit of history on its hands. There are nearly 700 works on display, all chosen from the museum's collection of more than 2,000 pieces. Dating from the Neolithic period to today, the pieces hail from countries such as India, Persia, Vietnam, and Japan.
Asian art makes up a quarter of the Harn's more than 10,000 works, which, along with travelling exhibitions, fill 32,800 square feet of gallery space. You’ll walk past African wooden masks, metalwork, and ceramics, as well as almost 1,000 modern prints, drawings, and paintings—including canvases by Claude Monet.
Breaking the tradition of many art museums’ “Do not touch” signs, the Bishop Study Center has exhibit-related objects that can be gently touched, though you are not allowed to break apart any sculptures in search of hidden treasure maps. Beyond exhibits, the Harn hosts frequent events including lectures, film screenings, live performances, and interactive programs for students and families.
Two tails ranch shelters and cares for exotic animals across 20 acres of natural expanse, bolstered by the educational and awareness efforts of its nonprofit organization, All About Elephants. For more than 25 years, owner Patricia Zerbini has kept more than 100 elephants and exotic cats in her animal haven, where she trains, breeds, and provides medical care for these majestic creatures, in addition to building a comfortable place for them to retire from stressful careers as circus performers and stock traders. During tours, wildlife enthusiasts can gaze at giant elephants as they lumber throughout free-style enclosures and gain awareness as experts educate them about the plight of elephants in the modern world. The ranch also houses a variety of other domestic and exotic animals, along with a collection of fossils, artifacts, and elephant memorabilia, such as 500,000-hour audio books detailing each animal's memories.
With thousands of frame and mat combinations to choose from, The Great Frame Up is fully stocked to satisfy any and all frame-related fantasies. The design wizards can find a home for any prized possession, such as shoebox photos, baby booties, ticket stubs, medals, and really good pot roasts. Make diplomas radiate (diploma framing starts at around $100), personalized jerseys glisten (starting around $300), and dorm-room movie posters sparkle behind their protective cage (many 24"x36" pieces are less than $100). The Great Frame Up’s no-hassle guarantee and assurance that all work is done on-site means your frameables won't be subject to mistreatment or rigorous questioning at underground commercial framing facilities.
Sailing smoothly since its maiden voyage last fall, the 155-foot Jacks or Better Casino harbors more than 180 ticket-operated slot machines, which allow bettors to digitally select the stake of each spin (from $.01 to $25). Chomp chicken tenders ($5) or a hot dog ($3) and examine the table games found on deck, featuring blackjack, craps, roulette, three-card poker, and baccarat ($5 to $1,000 limits), or place a wager on the ship's virtual sportsbook, which supplies betting options for collegiate and professional contests across the globe.
Standing still in a cloud of free-flying butterflies, exploring the depths of a limestone cave, and gazing at the 14-foot bones of a 16,000-year-old Columbian mammoth skeleton?visitors can do all of this in just one afternoon at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Since starting in 1891 as a professor?s teaching collection of fossils, minerals, and human anatomy models, the museum has transformed into the home of more than 40 million specimens, creating a library of life that features one of the world?s largest collections of butterflies and moths.
Reflecting the museum?s impressive collection of winged beauties, some of its exhibits focus on the butterflies and moths that, unlike humans, can survive long flights without eating a single package of peanuts. At the Butterfly Rainforest, more than 1,000 butterflies from 60 to 80 species take to the air among tropical trees, orchids, bromeliads, and waterfalls cascading into a pond that bustles with fish and turtles. Feeding stations with freshly cut fruit dot the 6,400-square-foot screened enclosure, letting guests get up close as the butterflies feast. Live butterfly releases daily at 2 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. let onlookers watch them fly into an outdoor butterfly rainforest, and among the indoor butterfly exhibits, curious audiences can peer into a rearing lab where staff unpack and sort newly arrived pupae.
Rounding out the museum?s focus on Floridian biosystems, the Northwest Florida: Waterways & Wildlife exhibit invites visitors to wander through a full-scale recreation of a hammock forest, and the South Florida exhibit takes guests down the peninsula with a mangrove boardwalk and a palm-thatched Calusa leader?s house. The museum's internationally acclaimed fossil collection includes highlights such as "shark jaw row," extinction dioramas, and full skeletal mounts and sculptures. Meanwhile, outside, petals unfurl in the wildflower and butterfly garden.
A year before her death in 1959, Ninah Cummer—an art collector, garden enthusiast, and civic leader—donated her riverfront home and art collection to the community, imploring her fellow citizens to help support the foundation of an art museum. In less than 10 years, the board of trustees transformed the abode into the verdant Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, adding to Ninah's original gift of 60 pieces until the collection included nearly 1,000 works of art.
Today, the permanent collection holds pieces that span more than four millennia, from 2,100 B.C. to the 21st century. An ancient Egyptian stone tablet intrigues viewers with cryptic hieroglyphs and stylized portraits while, nearby, Peter Paul Rubens' The Lamentation of Christ epitomizes the colorful, sweepingly histrionic style of the Baroque painters. American treasures include Gilbert Stuart's iconic portrait of George Washington—one of over 100 he painted in an attempt to perfect the likeness of the first president and design a killer mask for the White House Halloween party.
After getting their fill of indoor beauty, guests can head to the open air and vibrant scenery of the museum's gardens. Begun more than a century ago, the gardens crisscross with winding paths that take guests under the canopies of majestic oaks and alongside the Italian garden's shimmering reflecting pools.