Just off the mainland, historic Pine Island and its surrounding islets glisten among the Gulf’s waves. This rural haven – first settled by the Calusa Indians – was once only accessible by boat. These days, it’s only a short drive away from Cape Coral, but the area hasn’t lost its unique personality.
In an attempt to preserve the rich culture and history of the area, the community rallied together to create the Museum of the Islands. Manned and developed entirely by volunteers, this museum houses items from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as Calusa artifacts from excavated shell mounds. Let’s take a look at some of the unique exhibits you’ll find when you visit.
One of the museum’s most prized pieces is a detailed, beaded tapestry created in 1874 by Sarah Custer and her daughter Mary. Before arriving at the museum, the work of art was proudly displayed at some of the time period’s most prominent events – including the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
The museum houses a collection of more than 1,700 different kinds of shells – all found on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. This exhibit also features art pieces and artifacts inspired by Pine Island’s indigenous wildlife and a detailed catalogue of the various fish that frequent the surrounding waters.
Discover a snapshot of what life was like on Pine Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with fashion accessories, household items and even fully-furnished rooms replicated from the period. And don’t forget to stop by the aptly named Pioneer Room, where you’ll find a fully restored life-sized horse cart from the early 1900s.
In 1895, archaeologist Frank Cushing encountered a Calusa village while exploring the western shores of Pine Island. This discovery inspired a large mural in the museum along with an exhibit detailing the story of the area’s earliest settlers. Here, you’ll find authentic Calusa artifacts, pottery, shell tools and other materials uncovered during excavations at the site.
Visit the Museum of the Islands on Pine Island today! Click here to learn more about museum hours and admission. Be sure to visit our Museums & Galleries page to learn more about things to do on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, including cultural and historical museums!
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