Silver River Museum building new wing to showcase prehistoric dugout canoe exhibit

Published: Aug. 7, 2019 at 5:36 PM EDT
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Construction to expand the Silver River Museum in Marion County is underway.

"This is the third building expansion the Felburn Foundation has done on the museum,” said Executive Director of the Felburn Foundation Guy Marwick.

A new wing will be added to showcase an exhibit on prehistoric dugout canoes discovered nearly two decades ago by a Gainesville high school teacher and his students.

The Florida Museum of Natural History originally created the exhibit and it has been on tour around the state.

Now the exhibit will go to the Silver River Museum.

Located at Silver Springs State Park, the museum holds various treasures of North Central Florida.

"Over here these artifacts in this exhibit are all for Silver River,” Marwick said pointing to the different displays.

Marwick had a hand in starting the museum and now works for the Felburn Foundation which is helping fund the expansion.

"I started this museum. It was my brainchild. I raised the money to build it initially. After I retired, it was a great opportunity when I started with the Felburn Foundation to be able to come here and continue to help,” he said.

Now with the private donation of 350,000 dollars from the Felburn Foundation, the museum will be able to hold a large exhibit titled "Dugout Canoes: Paddling Through The Americas."

"We created the exhibit after a find, an amazing historic find, more than 100 dugout canoes at Newnans Lake near Gainesville,” said Director of Exhibits and Public Programs for the Florida Museum of Natural History, Darcie MacMahon.

The canoes that were found had been preserved in the lake bed where decaying bacteria couldn't reach them, allowing for an incredibly rare archaeological find.

"The canoes had stayed wet through the years and most of the canoes were about 5,000 years old, so we're talking about a long period of time where these canoes had sunk into the bottom of the lake and then stayed in the mud there,” she said.

Roughly 10,000 children visit the museum each year to explore and learn about Florida's history - and this year they'll be able to expand their minds, along with the expanding museum.

"That's one of our goals for the foundation,” Marwick added

Construction began this week, clearing out the site where the new building will go.

Officials said construction is expected to last roughly six months.

Once the canoe exhibit is fully set up it will remain at the Silver River Museum for at least the next 10 years.

Monday through Friday the museum is open to only school field trips and students. Saturday and Sunday the museum is open to the public.

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