MARCO ISLAND — History will come to life during a night at the museum on Marco Island, Thursday. Despite challenges securing money to purchase exhibits for the new Marco Island Historical Museum on Heathwood Drive, the plan to begin with a “soft opening” is moving forward, announced Craig Woodward of the Marco Island Historical Society.
The event, which Woodward said sold out, will include costumed tours led by historical society members playing the roles of key figures from the Island’s history.
There will be a live auction to benefit the museum, which is much needed to help purchase exhibits.
“The museum will not open to the public for some time, as it will still be empty,” Woodward said.
Collier County Commission approved spending an additional $200,000 on Jan. 26, partially taking up the Marco City Council’s offer to match the county on expenses up to $350,000.
That decision came after approval of using $100,000 in tourist development dollars, which come from taxes on vacation accommodations, as well as $50,000 from Paradise Advertising. City Council is to validate their offer at a meeting scheduled 5:30 p.m., Feb. 16.
The function Thursday is scheduled 5 to 7 p.m., in the main museum, showing off the recently completed lagoon and shell mound. Also to be unveiled, will be a bronze, six-foot statue of the Key Marco Cat. The original artifact is still at the Smithsonian Museum and arrangements to get the original on permanent loan has not yet occurred, Woodward reported.
While Thursday’s event is open to donors of the museum, the general public will have an opportunity to see the new museum Saturday at the Appraisal Faire, which is scheduled between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. A team of professional appraisers will be at that event to give their estimated values of historic items the public brings to be appraised.
Woodward said he had “no clue about when it (the museum) will be open to the public as the exhibits have not been started yet.”
Construction of the museum complex, which cost about $4.5 million paid for primarily by private donation, is nearly complete. Living History Hall, renamed Rose History Auditorium for the significant contribution by Islander Bill Rose, is to be complete by early March. Once complete, the hall will be open for use by the public, Woodward said.