Imagining Florida: History and Myth in the Sunshine State

Project Partner:
Boca Raton Museum of Art
Contract Period:
September 1, 2018 – September 1, 2019
Amount Awarded:
$5,000
Region Served:
South Florida

With the support of a $5,000 Community Project Grant awarded by Florida Humanities, the Boca Raton Museum of Art presented “Imagining Florida: History and Myth in the Sunshine State”, a humanities-rich exhibition showcasing art products from Florida’s longstanding culture of art and creativity. Captivated by awe-inspiring beachscapes, salt infused ocean breezes, warm citrus air, and fascinating people, artists and visionaries have flocked to Florida from the time it was a jungle frontier to the present day, all in a grand effort to capture the magic of the state. Opening its doors from November 2018 to March 2019, the exhibit offered visitors an opportunity to thoroughly investigate Florida history through over 200 works of art representing those artists from the mid-18th century to 1969.

“Imagining Florida: History and Myth in the Sunshine State” offered viewers a glimpse into the variety of methods artists have utilized to portray Florida in three distinct sections. The first section, curated by Jennifer Hardin, involved paintings, prints, drawings, and watercolors to depict the wide scope of human experiences, including the naturalists/explorers, the African American experience, social change during the WPA era, and more. The second section, curated by Gary Monroe, showcased Florida photography from those well-known in the trade, including Berenice Abbott and Bunny Yeager. The last section, also curated by Gary Monroe, involved material culture unique to Florida, such as citrus crate labels, Seminole dolls, and “souvenir art”, including shell lamps and alligator canes.

Drawn in by the allure of vibrant artworks, educational opportunities, and the support of Florida Humanities, the exhibition received an unprecedented 22,000 visitors. The crowds filtering in and out of the exhibit represented a diverse and intergenerational group with 7,089 students, ranging from K-12 to College, Floridians hailing from Key West to the Panhandle, and over half of the visitors came from other countries. This attendance turned the gallery into an educational opportunity and community discussion space for all, spreading the beauty, grit, and diverse culture of Florida and its arts to minds of all backgrounds; young, old, foreign, and local.

After the wild success of “Imagining Florida: History and Myth in the Sunshine State”, Boca Raton Museum of Art holds future plans to present more exhibitions with special relevance to the Sunshine State, spreading the rich cultural history of Florida to its residents and beyond.

Boca Raton Museum of Art

Partner Spotlight

Partner: Boca Raton Museum of Art

Project Director: Irvin Lippman

About the Partner Organization: International in scope, while reflecting the creative expression of our region and city, the Museum explores the broadest spectrum of visual culture at the highest level of quality. The Museum is a destination and an experience, and serves as the cultural heart of Boca Raton.  The Museum in Mizner Park, The Art School in its historic home on Palmetto Park Road, and its Artists’ Guild, reflect the community’s civic commitment to excellence in arts and education.  Together they form an expanded creative campus that generates a lively conversation and provides insight into the creative force in our community.


Imagining Florida and its related educational programs would not have been possible without the support of the Florida Humanities Council. In partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Florida Department of State, the Florida Humanities Council is critical in order for Florida’s rich legacy in the arts and humanities to thrive and endure for future generations.

Imagining Florida and its related educational programs would not have been possible without the support of the Florida Humanities Council. In partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Florida Department of State, the Florida Humanities Council is critical in order for Florida’s rich legacy in the arts and humanities to thrive and endure for future generations.