Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

Sanibel’s Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is undergoing an extensive six-million dollar renovation that will improve upon the already fascinating facility that is a one-of-a-kind museum experience.

The museum opened in 1995 and has been a must-do site for visitors to the Island ever since. It is the only museum in the United States devoted to shells and the mollusks that make the shells. The museum operates as an information and reference center for national and international scientists, students and shell enthusiasts.

The Shell Museum has broken ground on an extensive interior and exterior renovation which will relocate the entrance lobby and gift shop to the first floor, and will feature a new museum aquarium facility for the exhibition and study of live animals. There will be 10 – 15 aquariums, from 100 to 1,000 gallons, and an extensive touch tank. The touch tank will provide hands-on educational programs for visitors.

According to Dorrie Hipshman, executive director of the museum, “The aquarium project will transform the museum’s ability to provide inspirational and memorable environmental education and teach ocean stewardship, leading to healthier beaches and oceans.”

Artist’s rendering of new aquariums

To date, a new reinforced concrete slab has been installed on the first floor to support the weight of the new aquariums. Outside new native trees have been planted, along with shrubs and ground cover. A new irrigation system has also been installed to make sure the new plantings stay lush and green.

The Shell Museum is set to open in early 2020. It will be an amazing experience for visitors to Sanibel to see the completely redesigned Museum. It is a Sanibel treasure that is only going to be better!

New reinforced concrete floor.
Lush new plantings to show off the Shell Museum.



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