Starting on June 21, a pelican figurehead created by native people went on display for the first time in Southwest Florida at the Marco Island Historical Museum. It joins 17 other pre-Columbian Native American artifacts, dating from 500 to 1200 A.D., unearthed on Marco Island during an 1896 Smithsonian archaeological expedition. The exhibit’s wolf, pelican, and deer figureheads are being loaned on a rotating basis due to their fragility.
The wooden figureheads are believed to be ceremonial objects used by the island’s early Calusa or Muspa peoples. They are on loan from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for display through April 30, 2024. The world-famous Key Marco Cat—a 6-inch statue on loan from the Smithsonian Institution—will remain at the museum through 2026.