Located in the first floor galleries of the Pérez Art Museum Miami is Mark Dion’s South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit. Art combines with sustainability to focus on the human interaction or interference with the Everglades and the South Florida ecosystem by interweaving art, science, ecology, history, and archeology to tell the story of different attitudes over the last three centuries between human beings and Florida’s natural habitat.
The installation has three elements: exploration (late 1700s – mid 1800s); exploitation (mid-1800s – early 20th century); and preservation and restoration (mid-20th century – present). The largest and most notable element is a full-scale model of an official-looking vehicle and uniforms belonging to the “South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit”, an imaginary government agency that comes to the rescue of threatened ecosystems.
The other parts of the installation include reproductions of photographs taken in the early 20th century by John Kunkel Small, a curator of the New York Botanical Garden and a vitrine containing artifacts belonging to 19th-century Florida botanist Henry Perrine, who was killed in 1840 at his outpost on Indian Key during the Second Seminole War, all imaginary and invented by Mark Dion,