"A fascinating collection of local museums explores the historical, natural and cultural side of Florida and beyond."
Consider yourself a culture vulture? Then you’re in the right place. The Fort Myers Sanibel area’s rich museum scene showcases exhibits on everything from prehistoric creatures to the science of sports.
For the History Buff
> Travel to another time at the Southwest Florida Museum of History in downtown Fort Myers. Exhibits whisk you back to Florida’s earliest days (think dinosaurs and saber-toothed tigers) and shed light on what’s happened between then and now.
> After touring the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, head to the on-site museum to learn more about the famed friends. Items on display include examples of Edison’s lightbulbs and a 1916 Model T given by Ford to Edison.
> Housed in a trim, white cottage, the Barbara Sumwalt Museum preserves the history of Useppa Island, from its years as a Calusa Indian stronghold to its time as a vacation spot for U.S. politicians, businessmen and other high-society folks.
> At Museum of the Islands, discover Pine Island’s past life as a major Calusa Indian settlement and its present role as a paradise for fishing and nature lovers.
> Pine Island’s Randell Research Center and its Calusa Heritage Trail provide further details on the significant Calusa Indian site once found on the island.
> Port Boca Grande Lighthouse & Museum at Gasparilla Island State Park tells of life on the island when the railroad was its only connection to the mainland.
> The Cape Coral Historical Museum traces the 20th-century development of this fast-growing city through photos, maps and other artifacts and memorabilia.
> Fort Myers’ Williams Academy Black History Museum, set to re-open in mid-November 2010, illuminates the achievements and contributions of the area’s African-American community.
For the Science and Nature Lover
> Mix science with fun and you get downtown Fort Myers’s Imaginarium Hands-On Museum & Aquarium, where kids (and grown-ups) can feel the force of a hurricane, dig for dinosaur fossils and see how science impacts their favorite sport.
> At Sanibel Island’s Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, visitors love learning more about the treasures they’ve found on the island’s beaches. Kids can even earn prizes for completing a shell scavenger hunt.
For the Art Enthusiast
> At Art of the Olympians gallery and museum, see what some Olympic athletes do when they’re not hitting the slopes or running laps. Find paintings, sculptures, photos and other works by sports stars like Peggy Fleming and Bob Beamon at this downtown Fort Myers art attraction.
>Be bowled over by the Sanders Collection at Edison State College, which showcases examples of 18th- through 20th-century Asian porcelain at the Rush Library on the Fort Myers campus. Then head to the campus’s Bob Rauschenberg Gallery, which is named after the late artist (and Captiva resident) and features changing displays of works by students and other artists.
> Looking for the next Picasso? Catch an exhibit at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Art Gallery or ArtLab. Student artists (along with other artists from near and far) show off their pieces at these two campus spots.