The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Sanibel Island

(4.3/5 based on 1,100+ reviews on the web)
Put your hand in a tank with domestic mollusks or see fossilized shells at The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. This nonprofit museum teaches visitors all about shells and their role in art, medicine, architecture, cuisine, and even the economy. Spin the museum's classification wheel and learn how to arrange and identify Florida shells. Watch a video showing huge mollusks in their natural habitat, or use a microscope to observe micro mollusks. Kids can spend some time in the children’s learning interactive lab. Plan to see The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and other attractions that appeal to you using our Sanibel Island family vacation planner.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • If you enjoy sea shells (and who doesn't), then this is the place you need to be. An actual and excellent shell museum, and collection. We go here once every year. It is a bit pricy, as almost everyth...  more »
  • We really enjoyed this little museum. It was $37 for 2 adults and a 7- year old. We made a shell craft, watched an interesting movie, and watched a fascinating live shell presentation, that even Helga...  more »
  • Don't miss this jewel. Shells from around the world. Programs for children. Call ahead for times. There is so much to know about shells! Some of the shells you find washed up on the beach may be hundr...  more »
Google
  • If you are in Sanibel and looking to learn about shells, then this is the place to be. They have just about every shell ever found and some awesome world record shells too. There are learning stations through out the building explaining what people used to do with shells back in the day. Did you know that sailers would make shell art on boxes for their wives. These guys were very creative and some of the creations are amazing. Downstairs is an interactive area. We dug through a pile of shells for an hour finding and learning what all the different shells were called. It was way better then I though it was going to be. They had a few more rooms with more interacting going on, but we were in a hurry to get to the beach and do some shelling before the storms. This is a great place to spend a few hours while at the beach when the weather is too wet for walking on the beach.
  • I never knew this place existed and what a wonderful surprise! The most beautiful sea shells from all over the world along with record size shells too. The marine biologist was very informative and shared the life cycle of the sea shells. Walking thru the museum was incredible. I highly recommend this tour there is much to see and learn!
  • Kiddos had a field trip here last week. The staff was amazing! The museum is set up very well and has an awesome display of shells. It's not a very large museum but it's definitely worth the stop.
  • Very nice tour by the biologist, but definitely slated for an evolutionary standpoint. Wouldn't take a school field trip the because of it.
  • Super fun if you are interested in shells! Good presentation/lecture on mollusks and excellent exhibits