Friday, January 18, 2013

Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum - Sanibel, Florida

Shells from around the world

The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is a great way to spend a few hours while visiting Sanibel.  Perhaps you would like to get out of the sun (or rain) for a while, identify your beach finds, learn about how and why the shells are formed or just look at the shells - it is a small museum packed with a wealth of information.  Admission charge is $9 for adults, kids 5-16 are $5, 4 and under are free.  Hours are 10-5 daily - they are closed on most major holidays.

Who doesn't love to find out what can kill you in the ocean?!

This museum has more than 30 exhibits of mollusks from around the world and an extensive collection of local varieties. Shells are shown in art, history and you can view specimens both common and rare.  There is a video about the life of mollusks that runs on the hour - it is interesting and we learned a lot, but watching the 'fastest' mollusk move is rather like watching paint dry.

I never knew that scallops came in so many colors!

There are exhibits showing how shells have been used in history - from tools, trade and decorations used by the native people of the area to the elaborate Sailor's Valentines that were made by men at sea as gifts for their sweethearts back home.


There is a children's hands on area with a tank of local mollusks, activities and a video to watch.  Ask when entering the museum for the scavenger hunt listing.  Kids answer questions and are rewarded with a shell specimen to keep.

A small gift shop is on site - but oddly enough they don't sell shells!  The museum is a  non-profit organization and offers some great items for teachers and classrooms at nominal costs.  Check the website for more information and enjoy your shelling on Sanibel!


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