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Voices of Pensacola inspires wanderlust in new exhibit

The Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center is currently showcasing the exhibit “Travel Diaries: Stories from the Jane Peaden Collection.” The exhibit highlights the travels of Peaden, a lifelong Pensacola resident and adventure seeker.

“She got kind of a travel bug in the 1970s and 1980s when she was very young, right out of high school,” said Jessie Cragg, curator of exhibits at the University of West Florida Historic Trust.

“She decided that she wanted to see the world and kind of experience other cultures and meet different people.”

The exhibit is divided into three sections that highlight the three major trips of Peaden’s life: South America, Africa, and Asia. Each trip brought back mementos as well as personal accounts of her day-to-day experiences.

“Everything that she did, she sent back to her mother,” Cragg said. “She would take photos or buy pieces and send them back to her mom here. All of the items from her mementos and travels have come back here.”

Items Peaden brought home to Pensacola that are on display include pottery pieces from Peru, masks from West Africa, and a tunic and belt from Guatemala, in addition to others. The exhibit also features an antique pair of glasses from China, an item Peaden fought tooth and nail to purchase.

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WUWF Public Media

“She went to China on a student visa in the 1980s when it wasn’t very easy to get to China,” Cragg said. “She was going around and managed to get into a bunch of merchant shops where tourists weren’t necessarily supposed to be, and she found a pair of really old glasses. She fought and fought and argued to buy these old glasses because she just really wanted them, but she said that the merchant could not understand why she wanted this pair of old glasses.”

In addition to personal mementos, the exhibit also displays pages from Peaden’s travel diaries.

“Every trip she took, she wrote extensive notes of what she did, who she met, where she went, and the things that were happening,” Cragg said. “She also included how much things were costing, which was a little bit different in 1973 [on her trip to South America] than it is in 2022, but it’s still really fascinating to see.”

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Hunter Morrison
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WUWF Public Media

Peaden, who proposed this exhibit to the Voices of Pensacola, hopes to not only share her travel experiences from around the world but also inspire a new generation of adventure seekers. She believes that anybody, regardless of age, financial status, or experience, has the ability to experience new cultures and meet new people.

“She wanted to be able to bring these items to mainly the youth in Pensacola, and her main mission is to let people see this and know that they can also take off, travel, and see the world,” Cragg said. “It’s something that anybody can do.”

The exhibit “Travel Diaries: Stories from the Jane Peaden Collection” will be on display at the Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center until mid-2023. The museum is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information about the Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center, click here. The museum is at 117 E. Government St., downtown Pensacola.