Florida’s Marco Island Historical Museum recently announced that the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology will lend the Historical Museum several important wooden artifacts ranging from 500-1,500 years old.

Archaeologist Frank Hamilton Cushing discovered hundreds of artifacts during an 1896 expedition on Marco Island in Southwest Florida. Included in the find, which will also make its way to Marco Island from the Smithsonian, is the world famous Key Marco Cat.

The artifacts come from the Calusa Indians (“fierce people”) who lived on the shores of the southwest coast of Florida and used shells to create tools, utensils, jewelry and ornaments for everyday life.

“It’s amazing these artifacts survived,” said Austin Bell, curator, Marco Island Historical Society. “Usually you don’t find organic material so well-preserved in Florida archaeological sites.”

Bell, who is in charge of the project at the museum, noted that before the artifacts arrive, Collier County will enhance its Calusa exhibit to with more interactive and participatory elements. The artifacts will be on loan from December 2018 through April 2021.

The museum’s Rose History auditorium and grounds are available for events.