Shell museum marks milestone anniversary
The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary of opening.
It was with great excitement that the museum opened its doors in 1995 as the only one in North America dedicated to mollusks and the shells they leave behind. The celebration will kick off on Nov. 18 with a commemorative postcard and cookie for paid admissions from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It is only fitting that the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is on Sanibel, which is known worldwide for the variety and quantities of shells found on its beaches. With support from the Bailey and Matthews families, a group of individuals helped to turn the idea for a museum into a reality.
In 25 years, the museum has expanded its reach beyond the islands. Its Adopt-A-Class program has engaged fourth-graders in Lee and Collier counties, as has its Mollusks on the Move program. Due to the pandemic, the museum’s outreach has continued virtually, offering the chance to expand further.
In early 2020, with the generosity and support from sponsors, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum unveiled a major expansion, the “Beyond Shells: Living Gallery.” Adding live animal aquariums to its collection, the permanent feature connects the public to the little-known animals that create the ocean’s stunning shells, while educating visitors about the importance of the animals.
Eleven aquariums showcase cold and warm water species, such as octopuses, cuttlefish and corals. Visitors can duck into a pop-up bubble for a 360-degree look at mollusks and fish, as well as can immerse their hands in two 15-foot touch-pool experiences.
For more information, call 239-395-2233 or visit www.shellmuseum.org.
The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is at 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel.