You walk in and see a big, red egg chair, similar to the one in “Mork and Mindy” or, more recently, “Men in Black.” It beckons you to sit in it, and when you do, you’re surrounded by sound. It’s a voice from the past, telling you a story that takes you to another time in Pensacola…a timeless civilized and developed, a time under the Spanish or maybe French reign. If you close your eyes and listen to the words, you will envision the landscape and the people and get a feel for what Pensacola was like hundreds of decades ago when people of all ethnicities, representing industry, politics, and religion worked together and sometimes against each other in crafting this eclectic city on the bay.
Listening to these voices of the past is part of the modern-day history experience at the VOICES Multicultural Center in downtown Pensacola. It’s a new center that opened this fall and has attracted thousands of people, who want to connect to the history of America’s first settlement. In talking to the curator at VOICES, he’ll tell you that there’s definitely something unique about oral histories and how the spoken word gives you such a different experience than reading about something in a book. When you hear it, you re-live it.
History lovers who like to listen have lots to look forward to when they visit this new gem in Pensacola. Student projects through the University of West Florida have provided more than 400 oral histories, currently stored on the second floor of the center, that will begin to rotate throughout the big egg downstairs (and will always be available for access upstairs). These stories vary from tales about Pensacola’s historic cemeteries to wild politics to trade and timber. Connecting to these voices really forces you to imagine, pause, appreciate and find inspiration. What a great gift to give to yourself, your children and grandchildren. But, it’s not just through the sound of voices that the center stimulates. It’s a resource that showcases music, displays, lectures, and the arts.
The Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center is located at 117 East Government Street. Visitors can experience this rich history Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, please contact the Multicultural Center at 850-595-5840. May you visit and may you leave inspired!