Category Archives: Daily Operations

NEW Keeper Tours & Demos at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum!

Guests to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum can now learn even more about the maritime history of our area. New Nation’s Oldest Port® Demos reveal stories about daily life of a St. Augustine Lighthouse Keeper, how sailors navigated the seas before GPS, and how our Lighthouse Archaeologists discover artifacts underwater on shipwrecks – along with other maritime topics during these interactive and fun experiences.

St. Augustine Lighthouse Keeper Jason Smith stands on the front lawn of the Keepers’ House in front of the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse tower. New Keeper Tours offers a walk with Jason or Keeper Rick Cain for a one-hour behind the scenes experience.

“Guests can now customize their visit to the Museum through a wide variety of location, theme and time options, making their experience more meaningful to them,” said Brenda Swann, Director of the Interpretive Division at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

“These fun demos create memories and a connection to the historic site and the region’s maritime heritage that will last a lifetime. We love this new opportunity to engage with our visitors!”

During the new Nation’s Oldest Port Demos at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, guests can learn how sailors navigated the high seas and inland waters before GPS, radar and accurate maps during a demo called Dead Reckoning.

Visitors also can take a walk with one of our Lighthouse Keepers (Rick Cain and Jason Smith) and learn about Lighthouse history on a behind the scenes tour. New Keepers’ Tours are held at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; and at 10 a.m. Wednesdays. The one-hour tours are $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for seniors and children under 12. Reservations can be made by calling 904-829-0745 or ask in the gift shop.

Nation’s Oldest Port® Demos are included with the cost of admission to the nonprofit Museum. The educational and interactive programs run each half hour from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the grounds. See the list of demos below.

Find out if you could handle being the keeper of the St. Augustine Lighthouse in the late 1800s on the Bucket Challenge, a Nation’s Oldest Port Demo that demonstrates and discusses daily life of the St. Augustine Lighthouse keepers.

Regular admission fees to the Museum are $12.95 for adults; $10.95 for seniors and children under 12; and free for children less than 44 inches (unable to climb the tower). St. Johns County residents with ID can pay for one day and receive a pass for a complete calendar year. Membership packages also are available. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Memorial Day, then 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week during summer.

For more details about the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, visit staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745. Stay updated on social media at facebook.com/staugustinelighthouse, Instagram.com/stauglighthouse, and twitter.com/firstlighthouse

New Nation’s Oldest Port® Programs

  • Dead Reckoning: Learn how sailors navigated the high seas and inland waters before GPS, radar and accurate maps.
  • Tools of the Trade: Discover how early boatwrights bent and shaped wooden beams and made waterproof craft.
  • Sailor Lingo and Superstitions: Hear common and not-so-common phrases and words that were a matter of life and death aboard ship.
  • Bucket Challenge: Find out if you could handle being the keeper of the St. Augustine Lighthouse in the late 1800s at this fun program that demonstrates and discusses daily life of the keepers.
  • Improv at the St. Augustine Lighthouse: Help your docent decide what stories to tell from Lighthouse past and be surprised by what you hear!
  • Lighting the Way: See how lighthouses throw light 19-25 miles out to sea and learn the importance of lighthouses to early shipping and navigation.
  • Finding Shipwrecks and Why They Matter: Learn how archaeologists search for and find shipwrecks buried under the ocean floor and discover why these nonrenewable resources are important.
  • Stories from Beneath the Waves: Working underwater in low visibility offshore of St. Augustine, archaeologists often document shipwrecks using only their sense of touch. Try your hand at this and “see” how knowing the artifacts and their location on the shipwreck reveal stories not otherwise known.
  • That’s an Artifact? Uncover more stories in the lab and find out how artifacts unlock the secrets of shipwrecks and the people onboard.

For additional information, visit www.staugustinelighthouse.org

PHOTOS: Must-see views along the Maritime Hammock Trail

MARITIME HAMMOCK STROLL! Here are some photos taken on Monday, July 23 on a stroll through the Maritime Hammock trails on the grounds of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. We also offer a Scavenger Hunt for all ages! Search for creatures that live in this coastal habitat and learn about medicinal and historic uses of plants …

 

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum Receives Highest National Recognition

Awarded accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies and to the museum-going public.

Alliance Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for over 45 years, the Alliance’s museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and remain financially and ethically accountable in order to provide the best possible service to the public.

“AAM Accreditation has been a long time goal. It was a rigorous process for all involved including our dedicated staff and our enthusiastic Board of Trustees as well as our many volunteers. As a team, we made it to the pinnacle in our field, and we couldn’t be more pleased than we are in this moment,” said Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming. Fleming went on to add, “AAM Accreditation helps us share the importance of Florida’s museums. We are curators of community heritage and culture, passionate advocates for authentic stories and dynamic educational programs and most importantly we are stewards of the public trust.”

Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, over 1,070 are currently accredited. Florida has over 400 museums according to the Florida Association of Museums database and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is one of only fifty-six accredited in the state, as well as the only accredited museum in St. Johns County.

Accreditation is a very rigorous but highly rewarding process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation a museum first must conduct a year of self-study, and then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. The Alliance’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, considers the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation.

“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura L. Lott, Alliance president and CEO. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.”

Accreditation certificate awarded by the American Alliance of Museums.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is open seven days a week from 9 AM to 6 PM with daily Behind the Scenes tours available included with admission. Visit their website for additional information at www.staugustinelighthouse.org.

###

ABOUT THE ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MARITIME MUSEUM:
A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest Port®. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port® as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. (StAugustineLighthouse.org)

ABOUT THE AMERICAN ALLIANCE OF MUSEUMS:
The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. (www.aam-us.org)

 

Archaeologists + Dating = Success Through Collaboration

The past three months have been very busy for our Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) archaeologists. They have been analyzing artifacts discovered on the Museum property during last summer’s construction of the new Maritime Archaeology & Education Center, as well as sites through St. Johns and Flagler Counties uncovered during the storms.

Our analysis started by contacting Dr. Lee Newsom, a Professor of Anthropology at Flagler College. Dr. Newsom is an expert in examining preserved plant remains from archaeological and paleontological sites as well as examining faunal remains, or bones! We were looking to determine the types of animals found in the trash pits uncovered during construction of the new Center. Once the bones were handed over, Dr. Newsom and her students at Flagler College went to work on identifying the types of animals in these pits. They came back with incredible data.

Dr. Lee Newsom directs Flagler College students on bone identification.

There are three areas we uncovered and examined: an 1880s trash pit to the north of the northern-most outdoor brick kitchen, a trash pit dating to the 1900s, and a 1930s pit near the Tin Pickle. Many of the bones in all three areas were identified as cow bones – meaning the keepers here had access to various cuts of beef on the island. Other bones included deer, turtle, snapper and turkey. All of these animals could have been caught on or around the Light Station. This knowledge brings to light the foodways of the Lightkeepers.

We also tasked Dr. Newsom and her students with dating our wood samples taken from the November canoe discovery. This canoe had shifted around during the high tides following Hurricane Irma and became quickly exposed as the high tides and storm surge subsided. To further understand the canoe, wood samples were taken by a joint team of Museum Archaeologists  and the Florida Public Archaeology Network of Northeast Florida. Tests of these samples would yield dates and a wood species. Speciation is determined by looking at the wood at a cellular level and identifying grain patterns within the wood. From their microscopic data based on one of two wood samples taken from the canoe, Dr. Newsom and her students determined the canoe to be made of cypress. Dating wood is a slow process, and only requires a tiny sliver of wood to complete. The second of the two wood samples was sent to the University of Georgia’s Center for Applied Isotope Studies. The wood is dated using radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating looks at the amount of Carbon 14 remaining in a decaying piece of floral or faunal remains. As life stops exchanging Carbon 14 with the environment upon death and Carbon 14 decays at a constant rate, the older the piece being sampled, the less Carbon 14 will be present in the wood.

Wood sample taken from canoe for dating and speciation.

The analysis determined that the canoe is 830 years old ± 30 years, from 1950. From today’s date, that translates to a dating of 1000 CE. This is well before the Spanish ever laid foot in Florida. While this does not make our canoe one of the oldest in the state, it is believed to be one of the oldest in Northeast Florida.

LAMP and FPAN archaeologists examine the dugout canoe.

Now that the hardest date to obtain – that of the canoe- was determined, the LAMP team moved on to finding dates for our artifacts! The artifacts discovered on site (pottery, children’s toys, housewares) provided us with dates through historical research based on shape and maker’s marks present on individual objects.

Further research can be done into both the Light Station and the canoe to provide a fuller history of the northeast region of Florida. We appreciate the willingness of Dr. Lee Newsom and her students as well as the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at UGA to aid us in discovering new areas to be explored regarding this wider maritime history.

Contributed by Archaeologist Allyson Ropp, edited by Student Intern Jayda Barnes

When It’s Raining in the Lighthouse

We recently had to close the Lighthouse to our climbing guests due to moisture in the Tower.  This is an interesting phenomenon that occurs, at least in my experience, only in the month of January. January is the month where we experience our coldest temperatures here in Northeast Florida, and this year was no exception. Several nights here on Anastasia Island, the temperature reached to below freezing. During these conditions, the bricks and mortar, granite and marble, that form the Tower, as well as the cast iron landings, stairs and railings, all become very cold to the touch and remain that way on the until the air flowing to the inside of the Tower warms them up again. Then, seemingly suddenly, as temperatures outside increase, a warm air mass with very high humidity surrounds and enters the Tower. As this warm air moves inside the Tower and comes in contact with the very cold surfaces, the water in the air condenses into droplets on all of those cold surfaces. During these times, every surface in the Tower is literally dripping wet, and water can be seen running down the inside walls. We always say, “It’s raining in the Tower”. No amount of wiping or mopping will make any difference until the interior surfaces of brick and iron warm sufficiently to begin to evaporate the water. This usually takes a day or two of significantly warmer air temperatures combined with lower humidity.

A recent foggy night which led to the unprecedented Tower shadow and subsequent morning closures due to “raining in the Tower”.

This same effect can be seen all around our country in the early spring as warmer air moves over the cold ground of the countryside and steamy fog begins to rise off of the frosty fields.

So if you come to visit us in January, you may be able to witness this rare phenomenon in person, but bring your rain gear. It may be raining in the Lighthouse.

Contributed by Director of Museum Services Rick Cain, edited by Student Intern Jayda Barnes