The Museum and The Total Glades Experience
The museum explores and interprets all aspects of this complex region, and deems its role and collector-exhibitor-educator-interpreter of this remarkable place to be of great value to those who will come to the Glades to work and live in the decades ahead.
- The museum brings exhibitions and educational programs to local children and adults.
- It welcomes archaeological, agricultural, sports, and ecology tourists to follow the Glades version of their bliss.
- It aims to facilitate access to collection resources and service to researchers.
The museum can help a 10-year-old imagine what it was like to be a Glades child in 928 or 1928. It can help a teen-ager wonder what it was like for her great-grand-mother to be in the first class of the new two-room Rosenwald schoolhouse built in 1929 after the hurricane had destroyed all Glades schools.
It can help a Bahamian-American appreciate that thousands of Bahamian laborers worked in Glades fields and packing houses to feed the nation and its armies during World War II. It can help keep alive the music and atmosphere of juke joints that sustained the life and spirit of a generation of migrant workers.
A museum chooses its niche, whether history, art, or highly specialized activity or group. The Lawrence E. Will Museum: A Museum of the Glades has chosen the “total Glades experience.” It did so because the Glades is a unique place. It is formed by water over millennia, wrenched from water in a century, threatened by water daily, lives because of water, and has its water contested by conflicting claimants continually.
The Glades must always deal with the reality that far more rain falls annually on the watershed than can be now naturally drain away. If the first people are justly called “the People of the Water,” people who adapted to the natural sheetflow patterns from the lake that fashioned 50,000 square miles of Everglades, the people who turned that swamp into an agribusiness empire and who now refashion its relentless hydrology can be justly called “the People of the Water II.”
The museum will record history-in-the-making. This land is also unique. The water and sedges created feet of rich muck, which when eventually drained, turned into an agricultural wonder. Now some of that land close to the lake is beginning to be used for manufacturing in South Florida’s industrial expansion. This is sure to bring cultural and economic change in the next decade to the Glades.
The museum is a research center. It has a large collection of artifacts from the “type” mound of the prehistoric people of the Belle Glade Culture, It houses photographs and documents from the century of drainage and agriculture. It has ready access to collections of the regional wetlands soils, flora, and fauna.
It serves as the initial processing lab for prehistoric artifacts collected during the Glades Archaeological Field School investigations. The field school is a collaborative enterprise of Florida Gulf Coast University, Palm Beach State College, and the museum.