On my continuing exploration of Florida on the hunt for Pressed Penny Machines, I’ve exhausted the locations around the Orlando area and now was going to head north a bit to the next city on my list which was Gainesville. Online I’ve seen that there are three reported locations with penny machines and so throughout a weekend I made it my mission to find them all. Our first stop was over at the University of Florida.
The Florida Museum of Natural History is located on the University campus and did offer free parking. This area of the campus was very nice and pretty expansive with a couple large outdoor sculptures that I always enjoy.
Inside the Museum you are greeted with a short queue area and a gift shop on the right side but we will revisit that on our way out. The Museum is Free of charge to visit the main exhibits but donations are welcome and I would encourage that if you are visiting. They do offer some special exhibits throughout the year that does have an admission fee.
The first large area just beyond the front desk was like the main hub. There were different hallways in all directions taking you to the various exhibits in the Museum. This area also had a large Mammoth fossil along one wall, and there was also a table with an Alligator Skeleton that the kids seemed to really be intrigued by.
The next area I visited was the Discovery Zone which is kind of a kid’s area with plenty of interactive things to do and learn.
It kind of looked like we had been shrunk down to the size of a bug with the large trees looming over us from the ceiling.
There was also a large bug collection on display and plenty of dinosaur fossils that you could actually touch and examine.
My youngest daughter loved this area and I did have to drag her out of here eventually so we could continue our tour. The next hallway we encountered led us to the South Florida People and Environments exhibit.
This was another interesting area that was set up like you were walking along a boardwalk with trees and wildlife on either side of you. Just beyond this area is a large exhibit showcasing Florida’s Indian tribes the Seminole and Miccosukee who lived in South Florida. There were displays of their beautiful ceremonial clothing, woodwork, and artifacts from early Seminole sites.
We did then run into an interesting hallway that was called The Hall of Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land. As you can see from the above picture one of the walls was filled with some pretty intimidating teeth.
At the back of the Museum was the West Gallery with visible collections and labs.
Most of the labs back in this area did have people working mostly on paperwork during our visit. But I found this really cool that you could see into their labs while they worked on their research.
One of these areas along the West Gallery was their Butterfly collection and I was completely blown away by this. The above room had plenty to see but there was so much more around the corner.
This entire hallway was set up for their Butterfly exhibits. The glass cases on the walls extended from just about floor level all the way up to the ceiling. Some of the butterflies were small, and others were huge.
The total number of butterflies they had on display was just amazing, and the range of colors was so beautiful. This area was worth the trip in itself, and I’ve never seen anything like this before.
After spending a lot of time in the butterfly area we found ourselves back near the main entrance of the Museum and headed into the gift shop to see what they had.
We did buy a few things to help support the museum and then walked just outside the gift shop to where the pressed penny machine was.
The machine had a nice sleek looking cabinet. I do find this style presses pennies a little short sometimes and this was also the case here.
Most of the design did come through but you can see a bit was cut off on the ends. These museum pennies are also great as they usually showcase specific exhibits from inside that museum making them a little more unique.
Even though this museum would have been quite a drive just from the Orlando area, it was a fun place to explore. It’s not very big, but we did spend a couple hours inside and wow that butterfly exhibit was really amazing and highly recommended. This was just our first stop in Gainesville and still has a few more stops to make on this trip. Be sure to check back for more on this trip. Keep on Pressing!