Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Celebrates 25th Anniversary

provided to Santiva Chronicle

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the museum Wednesday, Nov. 18. It was with great excitement that in 1995 the museum opened its doors as the only museum in North America dedicated to mollusks and the shells they leave behind. The 25th Anniversary celebration will kick off with a commemorative postcard and cookie for all paid admissions from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the museum, 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Rd.

It was only fitting that the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is on Sanibel, which is known world-wide for the variety and quantities of mollusk shells found on the beaches. A dedicated group of individuals, with support from the Bailey and Matthews families, helped take the idea for the museum to reality.

In 25 years, the museum has expanded its reach beyond Sanibel and Captiva. The Adopt-A-Class program has engaged fourth-grade students in both Lee and Collier Counties, as has the Mollusks on the Move program. Given the Pandemic, this reach has continued virtually and offers the opportunity to expand even further.

In early 2020, with the overwhelming generosity and support from museum sponsors, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum unveiled a major expansion, “Beyond Shells: Living Gallery.” This added live animal aquariums to its world-renowned collection. This new permanent feature transforms the visitor’s experience by connecting them to the little-known animals that create the ocean’s stunning shells while educating them about the importance of these animals. The bright new space gives visitors the chance to rediscover the Museum. Eleven aquariums showcase cold and warm water species such as octopuses, cuttlefish and corals. Visitors duck into a pop-up bubble for a 360-degree look at mollusks and fish, as well as can immerse their hands in two engaging 15-foot touch-pool experiences.

For more information, call (239) 395-2233. The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is a registered 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

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