The Marco Island Historical Museum chronicles the history of the island, the surrounding region and south Florida. Its primary focus is on the Calusa Indians, who, by the time the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s, controlled an empire comprised of villages and towns stretching across the southern tip of the state. Marco Island was the site of three archaeological excavations, the first of which was conducted by the Smithsonian Institution in 1896. About 1,000 carved wooden prehistoric artifacts were excavated, including the famous Marco Island Cat. Collectively, this was one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in North American history. It is the finest collection of prehistoric artifacts found in a prehistoric site on the continent. In addition to the preserving the history of the Calusa people, the museum explores the early pioneer roots of the island as a fishing village, the pineapple plantations that arrived next, and the tremendous economic growth of the island during the 1960s.