Did you know Sanibel is home the ONLY Shell Museum in the United States? A truly one-of-a-kind experience, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum encompasses the joy and wonder of Sanibel Island’s most valued treasure: SEASHELLS!
Not Your Average Seashells
If you’ve been to Sanibel or Captiva Island, you know this. I had the opportunity to visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum recently when one of Sanibel’s famous afternoon rain showers cut short my time at Bowman’s Beach.
Although I was surprised the museum did not have FREE admission like many of the national museums I’m used to visiting in Washington, DC, the cost was worth the visit to this unique establishment. Plus, there’s no other museum like this in the states, so I HAD to check it out.
The Prized Junonia
Walking into the exhibit room was like entering Shell Wonderland. The walls were lined with shells from all over the world. I found a number of Junonia Shells – which are one of the rare shells people seek on Sanibel. In fact, if you find one of these on your shelling adventure, you could get your picture in the Sanibel newspaper!
Without ruining the experience for you, I’ll just show you one of my favorite displays. The scallop shell wall below immediately drew my eye. These aren’t your average white scallop shells, look at those bright colors! It’s like a shell-rainbow!
Brainstorming For My Collection
Walking around the exhibit room, ideas popped in my head about what to do with the shells I have sitting in a bucket back home. Hmm… Maybe I’ll make a fancy Sailors Valentine? The Shell Museum is the perfect place to go for a little shell inspiration.
Leaving Shell Wonderland, I was not only armed with the knowledge of a rookie sheller but also my favorite souvenir – the “I visited the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum” sticker – which provides free admission for the rest of the day I might add.
Thanks to the Shell Museum, I know exactly what shells to look for the next time I do the Sanibel Stoop (you know, the bend/crouch motion you do when looking for shells on the beach?) I’m sure it’s not great for your back, so be sure to take “rest stops” to sit and enjoy the water views. Tough life, I know.
Do you have any of these in your collection?