Growing up in Delray Beach, my elementary school field trips included educational jaunts to neighboring Boca Raton’s roadside attractions, Ancient America, believed to have been built around a Native American village and burial mound, and Africa USA, promoted as the nation’s “first cageless African wildlife habitat,” both long since transformed into residential subdivisions. Then there was the lingering question surrounding the town’s original name Boca de Ratones, whether it was associated with Spanish explorers, pirates in search of buried treasure, or the more likely, however mundane, an idiomatic translation describing the navigation of the inlet’s treacherous rocks.
Add to that legacy, Florida’s legendary Ponce de Leon whose hunt for a Fountain of Youth has become the state’s calling card. Then, 20th-century visionary Addison Mizner’s bid to turn Boca Raton into Shangri-La. Alas, resort life’s ultimate cloud nine face went bust, never fully materializing the architect’s master plan.
Thus, where better for Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru multi-media exhibition to launch its world tour than the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Jody Harrison Grass, the museum board’s chair, and Irvin Lippman, executive director, believe this extraordinary show’s promise to “captive, educate, and inspire viewers” will place the Museum of Art at the forefront of South Florida’s cultural landscape.
With art, jewelry, and artifacts from Peru’s Museo Larco and Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón, the Boca Raton museum’s visitors will experience what makes this UNESCO World Heritage site unearthed in 1911 one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, while exploring the exhibition’s impressive collection of archaeological treasures, including a Chimú Emperor’s gold attire, c. 1300 AD. Lima’s authoritative Museo Larco collection houses 45,000 artifacts in an 18th-century mansion, founded by Rafael Larco Hoyle (1901-1966), a pioneer of Peruvian archaeology.
World Heritage Exhibitions (WHE) organized and produced the Machu Picchu exhibition. Based in Ft. Myers, WHE is “a worldwide leader in producing, promoting, and designing blockbuster exhibitions.” WHE worked with Cityneon- Singapore, creators of “large-scale immersive, multi-sensory, technology-embracing experiences.”
With the world still not as accessible as it was yesterday, here is a look at all things Peruvian and the latest at the Boca Raton Historical Society.
Machu Picchu & The Golden Empires of Peru
Boca Raton Museum 0f Art
Mizner Park – Boca Raton
October 16, 2021 – March 6, 2022
Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum
71 North Federal Highway – Boca Raton
Boca Raton Historical Society
Directly across from the Museum of Art at Mizner Park is Boca Raton’s old Town Hall, home for many years to the city’s Historical Society that only last week announced a $1 million gift, changing Town Hall’s name to the Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum.
The Historical Society announced the Schmidt Family Foundation’s $1 million gift to sponsor public exhibitions, immersive exhibits, events in the historic Council Chamber, and aid the research library and archive. Established in 1986 by Dorothy and Charles Schmidt, the family’s foundation provides funding for local organizations in the community they were a part of for many years. Also, the Boca Raton City Council recently kicked-in $500,000 for infrastructure updates.
The Historical Society unveils its completed renovation on November 3. Exhibits highlight Boca Raton’s eclectic growth from a farm town to its 21st-century standing as an international community. The galleries showcase the 1920s Mizner plan, WW II Army Air Field, later converted to the Florida Atlantic University campus, and IBM’s development.
Photography Augustus Mayhew.