April 17, 2014

Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science

'A Taste of Tallahassee'

Charlotte Crane | 10/1/2010

Tallahassee Museum of History & Natural Science elevated boardwalk
The museum is on a 52-acre site that includes two lakes and an elevated boardwalk through natural habitat.

The museum has Florida panthers on exhibit.
Russell Daws majored in biology at Indiana’s Wabash College, intending to be a doctor, until he got hooked on museums. For the past 20 years, Daws has been CEO of the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science, overseeing the facility’s growth into one of the area’s premier tourist attractions.

The 53-year-old museum, just south of Tallahassee, is on a 52-acre site that includes two lakes and an elevated boardwalk through natural habitat where visitors can see endangered and other species, including red wolves. The museum also encompasses a science discovery center and 14 historic buildings, including a working 1880s farmstead, a plantation house owned by a member of Napoleon Bonaparte’s family and a 1930s-era African-American church.

“We are a great place for people to get a taste of Tallahassee. You can see how people of this region economically grew and flourished to this day,’’ says Daws, 56.

Founded in 1957 as a grass-roots endeavor to offer hands-on education, the museum this year received community awards for its preschool child-care program and as Non-Profit Organization of the Year by the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. “We run like a business,’’ says Daws. “The product we produce is community service.’’

Russell Daws "We run like a business. The product we produce is community service."

— Russell Daws, CEO, Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science

Daws, chairman of the Leon County Tourist Development Council, has become an advocate for a whole spectrum of tourism-related activity. “We’re a dynamic city, seat of Florida government and politics. You’ve got diversity of culture here — Seminoles, Creeks, Spanish — and a diversity of things to offer our citizens — three science museums, a plethora of history museums, ballet, symphony, universities and canoeing and kayaking in our back yard.”

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