Key West Museums
(Key West, Florida - FL, USA)
Key West boasts a wonderful collection of Floridian museums, which together cover the island's rich history from the time of the arrival of African-Bahama immigrants and Cuban exiles, to the strong presidential presence of the 1950s and '60s.
There are a number of intriguing museums situated within several of Key West's landmark buildings, such as the East Martello Museum in the East Martello Tower. Also very much of note in Key West is the lofty and rather historical Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum, which comes with spectacular panoramas of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, and was opened to the public in 1989.
East Martello Museum
Address: 3501 South Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, Florida FL, USA
Tel: +1 305 296 3913
Located near the airport, the East Martello Museum is set in the East Martello Tower that was originally built as a fort during the Civil War. This is an interesting attraction with intriguing exhibits marking the area's colorful past including the history of sponging and cigar making. Other notable highlights at the East Martello include a Cuban refugee raft, a horse-drawn hearse, a haunted doll and a deep-sea diver's wooden air pump.
Open hours: daily - 09:30 to 16:30, last admission is at 16:00
Admission: adult charge, discount for seniors, children half price, children under eight free
Duval Street Wreckers Museum
Address: 322 Duval Street, Key West, Florida FL, 33040, USA
Tel: +1 305 294 9502
The island's early 19th century wrecking industry made Key West one of the richest towns in the country. The ever-popular Wreckers Museum, located in one of the oldest houses in south Florida, was built by Francis Watlington in 1829, a wrecker himself, and showcases the industry through antiques and various other exhibits.
Open hours: daily - 10:00 to 16:00
Ernest Hemingway Museum
Address: 907 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida FL, 33040, USA
Tel: +1 305 294 1136
The island's most famed building is the home of the now deceased writer Ernest Hemingway, and is where he penned most of his life's work, including 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'. Hemingway spent the whole of the 1930s here with his wife and the museum contains many photographs and numerous cats that are descendants of Hemingway's originals. Tours run throughout the day and last for about 25 minutes, after which you can wander about unaided.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 17:00
Harry S. Truman Little White House Museum
Address: 111 Front Street, Key West, Florida FL, USA
Tel: +1 305 294 9911
The Harry S. Truman Little White House Museum originally served as a winter home for US presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy and contains audiovisual and photographic exhibits on important visiting dignitaries over the years. A huge former military parade ground and barracks is also on the grounds and visitors can stay in the two-bedroom Presidential Suite at a price. Forty-five-minute tours run throughout the day.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 17:00
Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum
Address: 938 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida FL, 33040, USA
Tel: +1 305 294 0012
This 98 feet / 30 meter tall lighthouse was built in 1847 to help those ships choosing to navigate the rather dangerous reefs just off the coast of the lower Keys. The lighthouse and the adjacent Keeper's Quarters have been carefully restored to their former glory and now contain all manner of exhibits of nautical charts, old photographs and other interesting artifacts related to the sea and the lighthouse itself. The panoramic views from the top are breathtaking and well worth climbing the 88-step spiral iron staircase to see.
Open hours: daily - 09:30 to 17:00, last admission at 16:30
Lofton B. Sands African-Bahamian Museum
Address: 324 Truman Avenue, Key West, Florida FL, USA
Tel: +1 305 295 7337
Located on the edge of Bahama Village in a 1920s house, the Lofton B. Sands African-Bahamian Museum covers the history of the island's black population through vintage photographs and memorabilia. Built by its namesake Lofton B. and today standing close to the Fort Zachary Taylor Visitor Services center, the house was originally set in the then so-called Black Town or Africa Town.
Open hours: daily - 10:00 to 18:00
Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Museum
Address: 200 Greene Street, Key West, Florida FL, 33040, USA
Tel: +1 305 294 2633
This interesting museum displays some of the treasure salvaged from the shipwrecks of the two Spanish galleons (the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita) that were loaded with riches from South America in 1622 when they sank to the west of Key West. Mel Fisher recovered the treasures in 1985 and opened this attraction soon after. Highlights at the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Museum include a gold bar and a 77.76 carat natural emerald crystal.
Open hours: daily - 09:30 to 17:00
San Carlos Institute Museum
Address: 516 Duval Street, Key West, Florida FL, USA
Tel: +1 305 294 3887
Originally founded by Cuban immigrants in 1871, the San Carlos Institute Museum contains a research library and tells the history of the island's Cuban exiles. The building also houses an opera house which is often used for concerts, lectures and films.
Open hours: Tuesday to Friday - 11:00 to 17:00, Saturday - 11:00 to 21:00, Sunday - 11:00 to 16:00