Great Hall of Shells

Shells of Sanibel & Captiva

The Bailey-Matthews 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 Museum offers extensive information on how and where to shell on Sanibel and Captiva, and how to clean and transport your gifts from the sea.

 

Shells from Around the World

Explore a beautiful collection of 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 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.​

Cameos, Shell Inlay, Buttons and Bows exhibit at Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island Florida
Common Fig Shell exhibit at Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island Florida

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 art and architectural design throughout history.​

Sailors' Valentines

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.​

Exhibits at Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island

Other displays

Shellabration by Goz Gosselin, 2012

This intricately crafted, free-standing shell "flower" is made of all-natural colored shells.​

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.