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Bailey Matthews Shell Museum

Bailey Matthews Shell Museum FORT MYERS  If you enjoy those early morning quests to find the best seashells that washed ashore overnight, the Bailey Matthews Shell Museum is a place you must visit. Due to their unique geographic location, the coastlines surrounding Fort Myers, particularly the Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Islands, boast some of the best shelling in the world. This museum displays shells collected from beaches on these islands and around the world; the most interesting display is a large globe displaying shells gathered from beaches on nearly every continent.

Exterior of Bailey Matthew's Shell MuseumSince its opening to the public in 1995, the Museum has operated as an information and reference center for national and international scientists, students, and shell enthusiasts who are interested in the marine, terrestrial, and land mollusks of the Gulf of Mexico and Florida. The slide show "The Lives of Shells", about the biology of local mollusks, is given 4 times every day. Immediately after the beginning of his tenure in early 1996, Dr. Leal started an effective outreach program that includes special talks on mollusks and their environment. This program has been given in conservancy organizations, elementary, middle and high schools, home-schooling groups, churches, shell clubs, community groups, retirement homes, and other public organizations.

The Museum established the Evening Lecture Series in early 1996, a winter season (October-April) monthly series of lectures given by leading specialists in malacology and natural history. The series is now given in collaboration with the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club. The Museum started an official collaboration with the Lee County schools in 1997, then with partial support from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, now in part supported by a grant from the Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Department of State, to pay for transportation and admission of schoolchildren grades 28. This has been expanded to include middle and high-school students.

Bailey Matthew's Shell MuseumThe Museum launched the R. Tucker Abbott Visiting Curatorship award in 1997. The competitive Curatorship consists of a lump sum awarded to a leading scientist who wishes to help curate and organize part of the Museum's mollusk collection. The Museum is also engaged in several work collaborations with national and international educational and research institutions. Overall, the Museum now offers facilities in its collection and research area for visiting researchers, interns, and students. In 1997 the Museum became the publisher (with Dr. Leal as Editor) of The Nautilus, the oldest English-language malacological journal (since 1886).

The original debt of $750,000 was, with the help of a donation from the estate of Mrs. Bernice Plummer, liquidated in July 1999. In May 2000 the Museum established its Cultural Endowment Fund, consisting of an initial principal of $360,000. In August 2000, the Shell Museum and Educational Foundation, Inc. was designated a Cultural Sponsoring Organization by Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs. The collaborations, exhibits, and educational programs established since its opening indicate the direction the Museum is taking on its path to the future./font>


3075 Sanibel-Captiva Rd, Sanibel 33957-31111 239-395-2233

Hours  Tue-Sun 10am-4pm