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New Museum Curator Enjoys "Touching History"

Anderson Hanna Joined History Museum Staff Last Month

"Getting back to museum basics" was a large part of the motivation that moved Anderson Hanna, former director of the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida, to apply for what might at first appear to be a less-authoritative role as Curator of Collections and Exhibits at the Lake Wales History Museum. Hanna doesn't see it that way at all, and is very happy with his career decision.

"It's about getting to your specialty," he said, in describing the change that also brings him closer to his family in Rockledge. "I spent two-and-a-half years there, and basically did it all," Hanna said of the Heritage Museum, which is located in Valparaiso in the far northwest of the Florida panhandle.

Hanna is a former adjunct professor of history at Eastern Florida State College in Palm Bay. Although he was born in Texas, he grew up in Chicago before coming to Florida with family.

The ability to create the new position comes only months after the city turned the management of the museum over to a young not-for-profit. Hanna's new position keeps him busy working in the recently-remodeled Hardman Collections and Research Center on the museum grounds. The building, an original 1916 Seaboard Airline Freight Station. was dedicated in January after more than 70 donors contributed about $33,000 toward the restoration. Many did so to honor the legacy of Mimi Reid Hardman, who founded the museum in 1976. The City of Lake Wales, through its Community Redevelopment Agency, provided close to $28,000 to complete the project.

Director Jennifer D'hollander was especially pleased to be able to hire a new full-time curator. "We hope to bring another person aboard to help with operations in the coming weeks," she said with a smile. That employee will be occupied in the main museum building, leading visitors and tour groups and otherwise assisting in museum operations.

The History Museum is located at 325 South Scenic Highway in Lake Wales, and offers a treasure trove of interesting bits of history, including a dugout canoe dating back to pre-Columbian times. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 to 5:00 and hosts many special events. Their new website is found at


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