Sunday, June 26, 2011

Opposing views: A Grand Piano in Miami and an Improved Estuary in Tampa

There have been a couple of photograph series in different Florida Bays that have intrigued me. Both of these series are contradictory when examining them from a conservationist (ecological) perspective. One is about wildlife and ecology preservation while the other involves polluting the bay. All the same I found both of them interesting from an anthropologist's point of view (what our culture values) and from a maritime archaeologist's point of view (what is abandoned in the water and what is deemed important during clean up of the water).

The most recent is an exhibit by South Florida Museum.

The images are a celebration of the work of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. It is the 20th anniversary of this program and was founded a year after the Bay was determined an "estuary of national significance." The introductory photo is stunning. It is great to read about the difference that this program has made in water quality over the last two decades (especially because I am moving there). It does go back to the U.S.S. Arizona question-which is more important: preserving the historical artifact or protecting the environment? Of course there is the solution of recording as you go. But this sounds much simpler than it is. I do think that there are plenty of opportunities for conservationists, archaeologists and conservators to work together and conserve maritime heritage for the future.

The second series of photos that I have enjoyed are the Grand Piano on the sandbar in Biscayne Bay. The photos are evocative and strike a chord in my soul.

At the same time I do understand that the Grand Piano causes a problem. It is not a natural element and can be considered pollution in the bay (with felony charges). In addition, it encourages others to leave items on the sandbar while capturing their "art" and encourages pranksters looking for attention.

I enjoyed the photos! And without trash and rubbish, archaeologists would have far fewer artifacts (and far fewer jobs).

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Archaeology, Conservation and Curation by Whitney Rose Petrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License