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A Second Shot at Life: The History of the Key Marco Cat Since its Discovery
In 1896, anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing unearthed hundreds of remarkable archaeological artifacts from a waterlogged site on Marco Island, including what is now probably Florida’s most famous pre-Columbian Native American artifact, the Key Marco Cat. Since its excavation, the Cat has embarked on an incredible journey of more than 12,000 miles, from Florida’s foul-smelling mangrove muck to the Smithsonian’s pristine exhibit halls – and beyond. It has been a direct witness to and participant in the evolving disciplines of anthropology and museology, on display in at least nine different exhibitions in eight cities, while enchanting millions of museumgoers and moving millions of dollars. The power it now holds is markedly different than that which was instilled in it by its maker hundreds of years ago. Its return to Marco Island in 2018, where it is on display at the Marco Island Historical Museum, is just the latest chapter in the long history of a singular object that has made a remarkable impact on the strange new world in which it has found itself. Registration caps at 100.

Mar 5, 2021 02:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Austin J. Bell
Curator of Collections @Marco Island Historical Society
Austin J. Bell is the curator of collections for the Marco Island Historical Society and a Consulting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He serves on the Collier County Historic Archaeological Preservation Board and, in 2018, was named Marco Island’s Citizen of the Year by the Naples Daily News. He is the author of three books, including The Nine Lives of Florida’s Famous Key Marco Cat.