This museum dates back to 1957 and includes exhibits dedicated to science and natural history, with a special emphasis on nature and wildlife along with exhibits that preserve and share the human history of the Big Bend Region of Florida. The museum offers approximately 30 permanent exhibits and also hosts several temporary exhibits. The main exhibits around the property are Natural Florida, Old Florida, Big Bend Farm, and Jim Garny’s 20th Century Dinosaurs. The main museum building houses over 5,000 artifacts and is located on 52 acres that were once the site of the Bellevue Plantation where many enslaved persons provided the wealth that supported the mansion that is now part of the museum complex. The museum also features nature trails and a playground along with an outdoor art exhibit that features sculptures of dinosaurs made from discarded automobile parts. Visitors can also tour historic buildings that are arranged in different sections to correspond with various eras. For example, there are farmhouses that represent life in the 1880s, while cabins and a mansion represent the antebellum era. The museum also offers live nature shows and guided walks.
The former plantation is now a museum that interprets the history of the plantation in addition to exhibits ranging from science to history.
Princess Catherine Murat A great-grandniece of George Washington, Catherine was the wife of Prince Achille Murat of France.
The museum was established by local teachers and community members in 1957.
The museum includes a variety of buildings representing the different eras and experiences of Floridians
Backstory and Context
The museum complex's Old Florida section includes historic buildings ranging from a plantation home to a historic Black church. The museum is home to the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist church which was reconstructed by members and then moved to this location under the leadership of a local historically-Black college. Old Florida also includes a one-room schoolhouse dating from the Reconstruction era.
Old Florida is also home to Bellevue Plantation. The property was the home of George Washington's descendant, Catherine Willis Gray Murat, and Prince Achille Murat, the son of Joachim Murat, the former King of Naples. Catherine bought the plantation in 1854 and would be one of the effort's leaders to preserve Mount Vernon while she lived in Florida. The former plantation is now home to the Tallahassee Museum, which dates back to the establishment of the Tallahassee Junior Museum - a museum for children established in the 1960s. The museum offers exhibits ranging from Florida history to ecological and natural history through the Florida Wildlife Trail and other exhibits.
The former mansion at Bellevue Plantation is now a part of the Tallahassee Museum complex and is located alongside a historic church and school constructed by former slaves and their descendants. The mansion has been restored to its original appearance and museum staff have recently made a more concerted effort to offer exhibits interpreting the lives of the enslaved at Bellevue and on the other plantations of North Florida.
"Museum History." Tallahassee Museum. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://tallahasseemuseum.org/about/museum-history.
Schuck, J. P. "Bellevue." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. March 11, 1971. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/0034f559-6aa3-4789-b00f-f57314659069.