The museum operated by the Marco Island Historical Society, in Marco Island, Florida, is a beautiful and comprehensive look at the arts, culture, and history surrounding one of my most interesting communities in the nation. Guests who visit the museum and view the permanent exhibits, especially those lucky enough to catch a special event, will be drawn in by the spirit of the area.
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The historical society was originally founded in 1994, then called a chapter of the larger Collier County historical society. Two years later, it became independent and was established under its current name. The complex started coming together just over a decade later, in 2007, after raising four million dollars for its construction. It had its soft opening in 2010, with its formal opening just a year later in 2011. Unlike many other historical societies, Marco Island actually owns its collection of artifacts. The majority of the permanent galleries opened between 2014 and 2017 and have won multiple awards in just that brief time.
The museum portion of the historical society features both temporary and permanent exhibits. The temporary exhibits rotate on a regular basis to provide guests with an interesting mix of historical exhibitions and artifacts that are appropriate to the season and time frame of the visit. Below is a brief overview of the four permanent exhibitions found at the museum.
Paradise Found- This section of the permanent exhibition focuses on the history of the people who have lived on Marco Island for over 6,000 years. The exhibit is designed to inspire, engage and educate museum visitors about the beautifully complex history of the original Native American occupants. It accomplishes this by showcasing over 200 pre-Columbian Marco Island (and surrounding area) artifacts, as well as original artwork, research, and replicas.
Pioneer Era- One of the newest permanent exhibits, the Pioneer Era exhibit focuses on the rich and diverse history of the original people who pioneered the Marco Island area, physically, philosophically, and culturally. The exhibit features new technology that allows visitors to take a peek at an actual diary written by one of the founding family members, learn about the clam industry’s success and demise through technology, and learning about local natural disaster history.
Modern Marco- Visitors will learn about the mid-1960s and the beginning of what is now modern Marco Island. Starting with the Mackle brother’s idea about transforming the island and traveling through a model Deltona sales office (complete with a film), this exhibit showcases artifacts from the time like a Marco sari, champagne flutes, and an original stock certificate.
Windows and Doors- This exhibit is actually located in an outdoor gallery and offers over 20 pieces of original artwork by multiple artists, showing life on the island through multiple periods. The artists make use of faux windows and doors (hence the name of the exhibit) for a vivid sampling of the history of the island in stunning color and detail. There is also a collection of portraits of some of the more historical figures in the island’s history.
The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9am to 4pm, and closed on Sundays, Mondays, and all national holidays.
The museum and historical society plays host to a range of special events throughout the year, designed to draw interest in the local history. The website maintains a thorough and complete calendar featuring all of the events, including dates, times, costs, etc. The events can range from the local (like town hall meetings) to the national (Elton John will be playing in February of 2018), so guests should make sure to check the website prior to a visit to confirm what special events will be offered. There are always a variety of classes, musical events, and guest speakers available on an almost daily basis for guests to check out.
The space is also available for rent for special events, like birthdays, anniversaries, wedding receptions, etc. Contact the staff for more information about booking, including any requirements. It’s a perfect venue for any special event due to the beautiful setting as well as its historic nature.
The gift shop at the museum offers a wide selection of gifts that also help to support the museum’s operations. The majority of the offerings are made by local artists and showcase their art, jewelry, and other handmade replicas. There is also a selection of items for children who visit. The gift shop is open from 11am to 4pm during the year, with the exception of the summer, when they are open from 11am to 3pm.
The Marco Island Historical Society, 180 S. Heathwood Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-642-1440