Mission San Luis
Mission San Luis, a National Historic Landmark site located in Tallahassee, Florida, was one of more than
100 mission settlements established in Spanish Florida between the 1560s and 1690s. Between 1656 and 1704,
more than 1,400 Apalachee Indians and Spaniards lived at the mission. San Luis was a principal village of
the Apalachee Indians and home of one of their most powerful leaders. San Luis was also the Spaniards'
westernmost military, religious, and administrative headquarters. In 1983, the State of Florida purchased
the property where the mission was located and began the research necessary to begin to present its story
to the public. This story has been developed by painstaking archaeological excavations as well as through
the translation of 17th- and 18th-century documents from Spanish archives. San Luis is the most thoroughly
documented and archaeologically investigated mission in the Southeast.
In 2001, work began to install a new visitor orientation exhibit in the Messer House, a 20th-century
structure located on the site. Completed in May 2002, the Visitor Center orientation exhibit at Mission
San Luis provides visitors with an orientation to the site and an introduction to a subject and time period
that is unfamiliar to many visitors. Its various elements prepare the audience for their tour of the National
Historic Landmark site, the reconstructed buildings, and the ongoing costumed living history program that
they will encounter. There are numerable hands-on, touch, and smell opportunities outside in the living
history area including furnishings, buildings, gardens, costumes, and more. This exhibit provides a
framework for beginning to understand the complexities of a multi-cultural 17th-century community.
|Museum drawers offer an opportunity for visitors to touch artifacts.
The orientation video is closed captioned, but does not have audio
description at this time. Mission San Luis has identified this as
an area needing improvement. They are currently planning to either
add audio description utilizing wands or possibly create a whole
new video. The entire exhibit text is presented in both Spanish
and English, including the audio tour. The audio tour utilizes T-Coil
Compatible Listening Wands which interact with T-Coil-enabled hearing
aids to boost sound for visitors with mild to moderate hearing loss.
There is an audio-descriptive site orientation tour for people who
are blind or who have low vision, scripted by a staff member trained
by The Washington Ear, a non-profit organization providing reading
and information services. This tour includes further information
such as exhibit text, room layout and description of tactile items.
Written text for all audio elements is provided in both English
|Archaeology profiles are recreated to enable visitors to see and touch artifacts.
The exhibit includes hands-on interactive elements that enhance the story for all visitors, including
a bronze three-dimensional topographic map of the site and recreated archaeology profiles that enable
visitors to both see and touch artifacts. The visitor brochure and site guide, as well as the 193-page
book on Mission San Luis, have been translated into Braille. A large print version is also available.
The outdoor site itself has accessible pathways to the Visitor Center and to the recreated historic
buildings. The interior orientation exhibit, gift shop and theatre are designed to accommodate
easy mobility for visitors using wheelchairs. Accessible public restrooms and water fountains
are also available.
It is the intent of the interpretive plan that the visitor, armed
with a clear outline provided by the visitor center exhibit, can
move outside to the site and its reconstructed buildings and recreated
landscapes. The living history program is by nature an experiential
process for the visitor. Visitors are encouraged to use their senses,
to touch, and to ask questions. The living history staff demonstrates
crafts and seasonal activities and explains that they too are part
of the process of discovering more about the mission community.
|Museum visitors can touch the three dimensional bronze topographic map to better understand the archaeological layout.
Accessibility is a key element of the design and content of Mission
San Luis. Bringing the rich story of the Mission's past to the widest
possible audience is a goal that informed many of the decisions
reached by the team of archaeologists, curators, designers, educators,
consultants, and fabricators who collaborated on a new orientation
exhibit that opened in May 2002. With input and assistance from
the Florida Division of Blind Services Director Craig Kiser and
staff, the exhibit includes hands-on interactive elements that enhance
the tour experience for all visitors.
Synergy Design of Tallahassee, Florida, exhibit designers, and Creative Arts Unlimited
of Pinellas Park, Florida, exhibit fabricators, were instrumental in the planning and
implementation of the exhibit's accessibility features.
|Synergy Design Group
1110 Capital Circle Northeast, Suite G
Tallahassee, FL 32301
|Creative Arts Unlimited
730 70th Ave N.
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
We appreciate the assistance from Karin Stanford on the description of Mission San Luis. If you would like further
information, please contact her at:
Mission San Luis
2020 W. Mission Road
Tallahassee, Fl 32304