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Shell Museum opens with a fresh look for guests

By Staff | Oct 18, 2013

The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum reopens after a two-week renovation. PHOTO PROVIDED.

After being closed for a two-week renovation, the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum reopened to the public with an elegant and spacious look for visitors.

The welcoming area was expanded with a more customer-friendly round desk, an open Museum Store, and new floors installed throughout the building. Crews also painted, installed new lights, ceiling panels, and freshened up the space.

“It looks modern, professional, and reflective of the quality of our museum,” said Dorrie Hipschman, executive director of the Shell Museum. “It really was for the customers to have an even better experience than they had before. It’s always good to take it up a notch.”

This fall’s renovation was the most substantial since the Shell Museum opened in 1995.

Hipschman also said the museum’s windows were upgraded to be Hurricane-safe based on new standards. For instance, the windows in the cupola of the Great Hall, designed by Sanibel glass artist Lucas Century, were removed and reinstalled with new exterior panels to weather any powerful storms.

The Shell Museum is home to over 125,000 pieces that are studied by researchers from all over the world and the upgrades ensure the collections are safe for future generations.

“We needed to better protect our outstanding collections and our exhibits from future storms,” said Jose Leal, curator and education director. “Every opening windows and doors is now rated for the high winds and rains Sanibel may experience in the future.”

Board of Trustees Member Tom Risher spent long days at the museum moving and protecting exhibits during the construction.

“The new windows will provide much needed protection for these works of art,” said Risher.

Clair Beckmann, president of the Board of Trustees, said the renovation was two years in the making and the project evolved as they found other parts of the museum that needed to be replaced.

“The vision kept morphing as it first was the store, than it turned into the entire welcoming area,” she said. “One thing led to another and led to another.”

The general contractor was Gus Landl and Sanibel architect Amy Nowacki drew up the designs, while Board of Trustees Members Lee Almas and Risher coordinated the project.

The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is one of only 800 institutions in the United States accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, out of a total of 17,500 museums nationwide.

For more information, visit shellmuseum.org.