A groundbreaking development: Marco museum construction to be kicked off

A rendering of the new Marco Island Museum. The museum will be located across the street from the Marco Island branch of the Collier County Public Library, on S. Heathwood Drive. The official groundbreaking ceremony occurred in March.

Illustration courtesy of the Marco Island Historical Society

A rendering of the new Marco Island Museum. The museum will be located across the street from the Marco Island branch of the Collier County Public Library, on S. Heathwood Drive. The official groundbreaking ceremony occurred in March.

A rendering of the new Marco Island Museum. The museum will be located across the street from the Marco Island branch of the Collier County Public Library, on S. Heathwood Drive. The official groundbreaking ceremony occurred in March.

Illustration courtesy of the Marco Island Historical Society

A rendering of the new Marco Island Museum. The museum will be located across the street from the Marco Island branch of the Collier County Public Library, on S. Heathwood Drive. The official groundbreaking ceremony occurred in March.

A rendering of the Marco Island Museum's planned interior. The entire facility is planned at 8,000 square feet, with interactive exhibits and high-tech climate control to preserve the artifacts on display in the museum.

Illustration courtesy of the Marco Island Historical Society

A rendering of the Marco Island Museum's planned interior. The entire facility is planned at 8,000 square feet, with interactive exhibits and high-tech climate control to preserve the artifacts on display in the museum.

There is still money to be raised, but for a project as long in the making as Marco Island’s own museum, it is understandable why the organizers are anxious to break ground.

A ceremony to celebrate the groundbreaking of the museum is set for Saturday from 4 to 5:30 p.m., and will feature Florida state Senator Burt Saunders and Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala as guest speakers, along with local lawmakers and historians.

By invitation only, the “First Dig” ceremony will also feature the official unveiling of the museum’s name. Reverend James Lake, of Wesley United Methodist Church will provide an invocation, and the Marco Island Strummers will provide music for the event.

The Marco Island Historical Society Capital Campaign got a boost in January when Jon and Sonja Laidig donated a whopping $1.5 million to the $4.5 million drive. The Laidigs, who are members of the society, helped single-handedly double to fund-raising efforts, which began in 2005.

To date, the campaign has brought in $3.1 million.

“So many people have contributed toward this effort,” said campaign Co-Chair Betsy Perdichizzi. “I’d say it’s just a community effort. Jon and Sonya Laidig personify the very best of Marco Island.”

With completion expected in 2010, the 10,000 square-foot facility will host interactive exhibits. And, as society members hope, the facility will become a home to some of the artifacts recovered from Marco Island during some of the expeditions conducted here starting in the last part of the 19th century.

One of the driving missions of the Marco Island Historical Society has been to become a permanent home for artifacts uncovered on the Island, particularly those unearthed by Anthropologist Frank Cushing in the late 1800s. One of the most coveted artifacts the society would like to bring home is the Key Marco Cat, the iconic carved wooden figurine discovered by Cushing in 1896.

To meet the needs of some delicate artifacts, the museum will be climate controlled by a sophisticated system. The complex will hold two buildings, linked by galleries and walkways. One of the buildings, a Living History Hall, will seat 250 people and host meetings, theatrical performances and lectures.

Currently, the society has two small museum exhibits, with one in the lobby of the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors, and another located in the Shops of Old Marco. The museum’s construction is a huge step forward for the society, which has dedicated itself to providing a permanent home for the remnants of Marco Island’s past.

“We are just delighted that the community has come together in the way that it has to create a living history museum for the island to preserve our vanishing history,” Perdichizzi said.

For coverage of the groundbreaking, check out the March 19 edition of the Eagle or go to marconews.com.

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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