On Friday, January 9th, Key West Art & Historical Society will present their latest exhibit in the Bryan Gallery of the Custom House Museum—Following the Fish: Hemingway in Key West. The exhibit will explore Hemingway’s fishing exploits and showcase antique fishing tackle utilized during the period of his fishing heyday here in the Florida Keys. It will also expose Hemingway as a preservationist with an awareness for the conservation for our local environment.
“His footprint in this sphere—aside from writing—is quite substantial,” says Cori Convertito, KWAHS curator since 2012. “The exhibit will focus a good deal on his appreciation of nature and his scientific awareness and responsibility to it versus his traditionally perceived machismo and persona.”
The exhibit reveals Hemingway’s field notes and fishing logs— extremely detailed catalogues of what he caught and where and associated weather patterns— all to better help him understand the science of fishing and become a better angler.
It also aims to interact with visitors, getting them to learn in a more hands-on way. Participants have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to fish for a Marlin or Sailfish here in the Florida Keys, utilizing the exhibit’s fish simulator, complete with digital read-out of angling skills.
“It really shows you the power of the animal,” says Convertito.
“We are hoping that the simulator will help people have a greater appreciation of the animal and how majestic they are … and maybe why Hemingway had such an affection for fishing.”
Key West Art & Historical Society offers this eco-historic exhibit with the support and collaboration of NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Mote Marine, helping ensure the material presented is environmentally accurate to better underscore the “understanding of our fishing legacy and how it has affected our environment and how it will continue to affect it in the future,” says Convertito.
“We’re pushing the interpretation of our mission statement,” says Convertito. “We’re supposed to educate; that’s why we’re here. We are trying a different avenue with this exhibit.”
Following the Fish will run through the end of July until Hemingway Days and will feature ongoing supporting programming including Distinguished Speakers John Hemingway and Brewster Chamberlain (author of The Key West Hemingway). It will also give opportunities for the organization’s new educational missives for Monroe County students.
“We need the narrative of “why?”” says Convertito. “We need to compare the size of fish Hemingway caught to the size of what is caught now.
“We’re not going to be the sport fishing capitol of the world if we don’t pay attention and take ownership of what needs to be done. We hope this exhibit helps drive home these points.”
The exhibit opens to the general public at 6:00pm, with a suggested donation of $10 for attendees, with a members-only VIP access from 5:30-6:00pm. John Hemingway, Ernest’s grandson, will be on hand, talking with the evening’s guests.For more information call Cori Convertito at 295.6616 x 112 or visit WWW.KWAHS.ORG. Your Museums. Your Community. It Takes an Island.
Hemingway Florida Memory, credit ‘State Archives of Florida’
EH, Bra, Waldo, credit ‘Ernest Hemingway Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston