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Carol Zell selected to steer Historical Museum & Village

By Staff | Aug 19, 2009

Last week, the Board of Directors for the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village announced the appointment of Carol Zell as manager of the 27-year-old facility, a collection of eight restored buildings brought together as a tribute to the island’s early pioneers.

Although she and her family have only been residing on Sanibel for the past four years, her connection to the islands goes back nearly two decades.

“We were going on a trip to Walt Disney World back in 1990,” she recalled. “A friend of mine said that she just got back from Sanibel Island and, if we were looking for a quiet, secluded place to go that’s off the beaten path, she said we should come here.”

Like many other island transplants have said before, “Once we crossed the causeway and drove up Periwinkle Way, I knew I wanted to move here. It just took me 15 years to convince my husband, too.”

Carol and her spouse, artist Peter Zell, finally moved to Sanibel from Yorba Linda, Calif., where she was employed at the Susanna Bixby Bryant Museum and Botanical Gardens. In addition, she also worked at several other libraries and museums in the region, assisting them in writing a managing grants for those institutions.

While living in California, Zell worked as a television anchorwoman, reporter and news writer for Channel 3 News in Santa Monica as well as a reporter for Channel 13 News in Hollywood. However, her first love – she readily admits – is reading.

“I’ve always loved history, so I read nothing but books about history and biographies,” Zell explained. “I also enjoy genealogy as a hobby, researching people’s ancestries and family history. It’s like unlocking little mysteries.”

So, she adds, working at a place like the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village is a perfect match for her.

“The docents do a wonderful job here,” Zell said, noting that during her first visit to the village, the tour guide “made me feel like Clarence Rutland was gonna walk right in.”

Since moving here in 2005, she has volunteered with organizations including SCCF and F.I.S.H. and has served in various capacities with the Sanibel-Captiva Art League, the Art League of Fort Myers, the Art Council of Southwest Florida and the St. Isabel Women’s Guild.

To begin her tenure as manager, Zell would like to tackle four major projects at the museum: building up a comprehensive photographic library, creating a new brochure and marketing materials, making their Web site more user-friendly and interactive and increase facility membership.

“I think this is going to be a lot of fun for me,” she said. “When I first moved here, I really didn’t have a desire to work. But then I got involved with volunteering at so many organizations. Here, I’m looking forward to doing anything I can to help increase awareness of the museum, from writing press releases to marketing work.”

Starting her new mission, Zell plans on doing a lot of reading about the history of Sanibel. Lucky that’s her first love.