The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum offers more than 30 permanent exhibits and a variety of temporary exhibits. In addition to displaying spectacular shells, we offer insights into many of the shells that have played vital roles in history, culture, art, design, and medicine.
We're passionate about offering in-depth information on local shelling and identification. We also provide an exquisite variety of exotic shells from around the world—giving you the chance to see and learn about many shells you most likely never knew existed! Here are just some of our amazing exhibits.
Our newest exhibit, Coral Reefs: Nurseries of the Sea, explores the important role that reefs play in the life cycle of mollusks and in the ocean as a whole.
The National Shell Museum is the leading authority on Sanibel and Captiva shells. Multiple exhibits give guests the opportunity to see prized Junonias, as well as fig snails, pen shells, and more. The National Shell Museum offers extensive information on how and where to shell on Sanibel and Captiva—and even how to clean and transport your gifts from the sea.
Shells from Around the World
Here's your chance to see gorgeous shells from around the globe. This focal centerpiece of the Great Hall includes spectacular shells from the Japanese Province, Indo-West Pacific Province, and more!
Record Breaking Sized Shells
From great to small, we've got it all! The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is fortunate to have on display some of the largest record-holding shells in the entire world! Among other record-size shells, you'll see the largest known representatives on record of four very large species: The Goliath Conch, the Lightning Whelk, the Atlantic Trumpet Triton, and the Horse Conch.
Shells in Architecture, Art, and Human History
In multiple exhibits, we explore the importance of shells to specific cultures throughout the world. From the oldest known currency, to fodder for exquisite art - find out how shells help shape human history.
From times immemorial, shell forms have inspired crafters, builders, and architects from many cultures. See how shell shapes, patterns, and proportions have influenced architectural design throughout history.
A highly-prized art form developed in the early 19th century by women in Barbados and other areas of the Caribbean. These treasures crafted with shells were often brought home by sailors for their loved ones.
Cameos, Shell Inlay, Buttons, and Bows
Three very specialized art and craft forms where shells are used for artistic and practical purposes. The making of such items will surprise you.
Shellabration by Goz Gosselin, 2012
This intricately crafted, free-standing shell "flower" is made of all-natural colored shells.
Children's Learning Lab
Check out the interactive displays, shell games, and touch pools at the Children's Learning Lab. You can't miss it!
Nautilus, Squid, and Octopus models
Life-size models of a giant squid, nautilus, and octopus help explain the three main surviving branches of Cephalopods. The exhibit covers many aspects of cephalopod biology and related folklore.
Florida Fossil Shells • Ecphora • Calusa: The Original Shell People
These exhibits show a variety of ways in which shells offer highly important clues into the lives of Florida's original human inhabitants.