An iconic fixture at the South Florida Museum has been moved after living there for 45 years. And no, it’s not Snooty.
The Hernando de Soto equestrian statue, which stood at the center of the Spanish Plaza next to Snooty’s tank, was pulled up by its roots Monday to be transferred to its rightful owner, the Hernando de Soto Historical Society.
According to the South Florida Museum’s director of exhibitions and chief curator Matthew Woodside, the bronze statue was created by Spanish sculptor Enrique Perez Comendador. His studio sat near St. Paul’s Basilica in Rome.
Officially unveiled in Bradenton in 1972, the statue was originally in the museum’s Great Hall, Woodside said. Seven years later, it was placed in the Spanish Plaza, meant to be a replica of Bacarotta, de Soto’s birth place and Bradenton’s sister city.
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Last year, the statue was transferred to the historical society, which will place it at its new headquarters to be built just south of LECOM Park.
The new $1 million, 10,000-square-foot Spanish-style museum will be developed at 605 17th Ave. W., just east of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring baseball home and Darwin Brewing Company, the Herald has reported.
The facility will include a courtyard similar to the one in Barcarotta, Spain. The move comes after South Florida Museum purchased the Hernando de Soto Society and Foundation’s property at Third Avenue West and Ninth Street West, making room for a $12 million expansion to “create the museum of the future.”