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Tampa Bay History Center to launch environmental exhibit

The Tampa Bay History center and Audubon Florida's Coastal Islands Sanctuaries team up to present a new exhibit "A History of Conservation: A Bird's Eye View.

It opens Aug. 25 and runs through Feb. 10 at the Tampa Bay History Center at 801 Old Water St.

The exhibit highlights birdlife in Florida and the conservation movement in the Tampa Bay area featuring artifacts that trace both humankind's reverence for and decimation of Florida's avifauna.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, naturalists like Mark Catesby and John James Audubon traveled Florida drawing accurate portraits of spoonbills, herons and other birds.

Some of Catesby's historical portraits like "The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands," which was published in 1731, will also be on display at the History Center along with additional historic ornithological prints provided by local artist John Costin.

The exhibit features Victorian domed taxidermy birds, a collection of rare egret feathers and an egg collection on loan from the Florida Museum of Natural History. Bird specimens collected by Princeton ornithologist W.E.D. Scott in Clearwater Harbor and lower Tampa Bay in 1880 are on loan from the university.

In addition, the exhibit will feature other rare artifacts such as a "cartonnage" fragment dating back to 1070 B.C. featuring a hieroglyphic depicting a heron, which is a symbol ancient Egyptians associated with creation and rebirth.

"Florida's environment has been a draw for naturalists and artists for centuries," said Rodney Kite-Powell, the Tampa Bay History Center's curator of history, in a press release statement.

"That incredible diversity of plant and animal species, especially birds also enticed those who would do harm to the environment, particularly the bord plume hunters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

Tickets start at $10.95 for children age seven and up and free for children age six and under. For more information visit or call (813) 228-0097.