The Knott House
The Knott House was established in 1843 by George Proctor, a free black builder. It was first occupied by Attorney Thomas Hagner and his wife Catherine Gamble the following year. After the end of the Civil War, Union Brigadier General Edward M. Mc Cook used this house as his headquarters temporarily. In 1883 the house was bought by Dr. George Betton, a prominent physician who used it as an office.
In 1928 this house was occupied by the Knott family. Together with other renovations, they added the front columns. William Knott worked as tax auditor-controller and as state treasurer in Florida for over forty years. His wife Luella was an artist and a mother. Besides her poetry and music, she also did advocacy for social causes. She took part in banning alcohol and other charitable causes. During their residence in this house it came to be known as ‘The House That Rhymes’ because Luella adorned her furnishings of the Victorian era with her poetry. Both William and his wife passed away in 1965 only eight days apart respectively. After the death of their son Charlie in 1985, the Tallahassee Preservation Board took over. They undertook renovations, and it was opened to the public as the Knott House Museum in 1992. In 1997 its administration was transferred to the Museum of Florida. As such, all its works and shows was under the control of the state. It is to say that the ownership and consummation or preservation of all the works were under the protection and overlook of the relevant state departments.
The Knott House offered a wide range of Victorian artistry. Having grown in an orphanage Luella did not have a lot to show off her parents. She, therefore, loved to shop for vintage pieces. She was known for her habit of attaching her poetry to her unique antiques with satin ribbons. Her work was a blend of history and teachings. Most of her works and arts are thus reflective of the life she endured during her formative years. It is however important to note and mention that the bulk or gist of her works are sedentary and cosmetic.
The architecture of the Museum of Florida is outstanding. One that seeks to reconcile the relationship between man and nature. It is the home of the rich history and prehistory of the state of Florida. This museum collects and preserves the evidence of Florida’s past culture and the present (Kurennaya 2). It also passes on knowledge of that heritage and promotes its appreciation. Being the State Museum, it focuses on show casing the achievements of the people of Florida on both national and global scope. Also on display are artifacts and eras particular to Florida’s development.
The Knott Museum serves as more than just that. With time it has gained popularity for the part it plays in education. It has a program with teachers and educators who reach out to people of all ages. They have an outreach program where the educators visit schools to present. The engagement encourages students to think critically and understand the diverse past of Florida.
Also, the museum often offers a platform to celebrate the legends of Florida. Currently, it is hosting a celebration of the life of Guy LaBree by showcasing his work of art dabbed Painted Stories of the Seminoles. The display showcases the paintings of Guy LaBree both original and reproduced. Empirical records postulate that he was the first artist to do paintings themed on the Seminoles. On display too are objects from his studio that he used throughout his career and artifacts showing his strong relationship with the Seminoles since his childhood.
Unexpected of a museum, the Knott House offers hope to the community. Its recent exhibit of the works of Elgin jumper is a perfect example. In his presentation, he will recount his writing and artwork. He will also talk about his family, his troubled youth, the mistakes he made, and how he salvaged his life from the ruins using art and poetry.
The Museum is proud to exhibit a display of nearly 30,000 square feet with the permanent exhibit. Pictures evidencing the fatalities of the civil war in Florida are widespread on this area. A pictorial story of the civil war is told by this exhibits from the beginning of the war to the end of that era. They explain the different fronts in that era. In the home front, different cultures like the way of dressing are on display. In the political arena, different figures in politics are shown (Chandler and Knott 105). Also, it touches on early agriculture and the beginning of industrialization. Not forgetting the medical and military operations. The exhibit paints a chronological picture of Florida during the civil war.
A strong feature of the previous exhibits in this museum is the Voices of Florida Women. This is a collection of over 130 artifacts showcasing the achievements of sixty Florida Women. They include paintings and drawings for the artwork and crafts like Seminole baskets and clothing. This exhibit has served to educate people on the strength of the women of Florida, their leadership and creativity.
A reputable permanent exhibit in the Museum of Florida History is the FOREVER CHANGED La Florida. It was started by the museum to highlight 500 years of Florida history. This program takes us through the changing periods in the history of Florida. From its native times to the coming of the Europeans and its adoption as a United States territory. The exhibit features many interactive and hands-on activities. They enable an easy understanding of Florida’s colonial history.
Just like art, a museum can serve different courses in the society. As evidenced by the Museum of Florida the impacts to the society go beyond recreational. It has been found to educate, inspire and above all to preserve the history of the state.
Chandler, Kimberley, and Stephen Knott. "10 A show of hands." Contemporary Clay and Museum Culture (2016): 105.
Kurennaya, Anya. "Amateur Craft: History and Theory, by Stephen Knott." (2016): 1-3.
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