Pensacola’s public art will become a cultural tourist attraction “story map”


A group of local artists, historians and tourism agencies catalog all of Pensacola’s sculpture and public art to create an interactive ‘history map’ to fuel the city’s cultural tourism scene .

Led by Holly Benson, a woman from Pensacola, as a passionate project last fall, the initiative is expected to be completed around November and will allow users to potentially scan a QR code on public artwork to learn more about their history and find other rooms to visit.

“Cultural tourism is something that really pushes people towards communities, and I think it’s something that sets our city apart,” Benson said at a Downtown Improvement Board meeting this week.

Rob Overton, executive director of the University of West Florida Historic Trust, was also involved in the effort and said that while Pensacola has great art and history, it isn’t often celebrated.

“You see things in the corners when you walk around, but you don’t always know it’s part of a bigger event happening here,” he said. “A lot of this is down to grassroots efforts and we have an almost outdoor exhibit if we could keep it and link it to directional mapping. “

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Overton said that with a change in the way art and historical markers are viewed, such as the removal of the Confederate statue on Palafox Street and the promotion of a General Chappie James monument, people are looking for stories stories that are not so much coming from “great men who have done great things” but more from ordinary individuals who have contributed to the community.

Murals depicting historical moments in Pensacola's history now adorn the Pensacola Trade and Voices Museum in the historic town of Pensacola.

“A lot of communities have great assets, they have arts and history and we have it all, we have the emergence of our food offerings that have really come a long way, great entertainment, sports, the Blue Angels, he said. conscious in this community to truly grasp its full scope. “

Benson said the team of 14 groups and agencies works primarily with volunteers and staff, including the DIB and the town of Pensacola, to collect the story, locations and draft text for the statues, works art and murals, all of which will be cohesive “story map” format.

The heritage and history of the Belmont and Devilliers district are reflected in the murals painted on its walls.

Users would access the information online, which the team found preferable over other formats such as an app that wouldn’t be appealing to tourists to download to their phones for a one-time visit, for example.

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The only cost Benson said she was planning could be lockets to attach to rooms with QR codes or directional signage, although the plan has not yet been developed sufficiently to know the extent of any potential costs. She said she hopes the project can evolve to include an almost game-like format where people can check off pieces from a list, and there are narratives to tell the stories behind important pieces.

Benson said that once text is completed for the roughly 40 pieces currently cataloged, the project will enter the design phase and ideally be ready to debut in November when Foo Foo Fest launches.

Emma Kennedy can be reached at [email protected] or 850-480-6979.

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