The Key Marco Cat and the Smithsonian’s Cushing Collections: A Digitization Collaboration

The Key Marco Cat statuette was discovered in 1896 by the famous Anthropologist, Frank Hamilton Cushing while excavating in a coastal shell midden and mound complex in South Florida near Marco Island. The cat is a striking work of ancient art, carved in wood and depicting possibly a panther/feline with human characteristics and possibly shapeshifting or in transformation. 

Numerous carved wooden objects and masks, many ornately painted, came from water-logged deposits at the Key Marco site. Today, the cat statuette is curated, along with a number of other items from the Cushing expedition, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The piece is currently on display loan to the Marco Island Historical Museum, where you can see the exhibit “Paradise Found: 6,000 Years of People on Marco Island,” as well as the immersive Calusa Village and displays for the Key Marco Cat and accompanying artifacts.

The Digital Heritage and Humanities Collections at the University of South Florida Library, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, used structured light scanning and high definition imaging to create this 3D representation.

See the 3D model here.

See our Smithsonian model interactive tour here.

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3D renders of the Key Marco Cat, shown with underlying geometry, with color texture removed and added, and as a blend render

Exploring and documenting the world around us in 3D

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