National Shell Museum’s Initiatives to Expand Local Access

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The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum established two new programs in 2022 aimed at giving more Lee County residents a chance to experience the museum and its renowned shell collection, aquariums, touch pools, and marine life.The first initiative, Lee County Sunday Afternoons, grants half-price admission to the museum from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays for Lee County residents who demonstrate proof of residence such as a driver’s license or utility bill.

The second initiative, Community Access Program, is a free-access program whereby the museum partners with service and support agencies throughout Lee County to distribute free-admission passes to low-income Lee County residents and other populations that are underserved or disadvantaged. Passes are valid for free single-day admission to the museum without expiration date. Participating organizations so far include F.I.S.H., The Heights Center, Child Care of Southwest Florida, Boys & Girls Club, Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida, and others.

“Our hope is that by lowering economic barriers for neighbors to enjoy the museum, we will increase access and educational opportunity, and the museum’s role as a local and regional community resource,” said Sam Ankerson, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Executive Director. “We hope many locals will take advantage of these new opportunities to visit the Museum and its new aquariums for the first time.”

Funding for these initiatives is made possible thanks to an anonymous donor.

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