The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum & Aquarium recently reopened its doors 17 months after Hurricane Ian – just in time to host its annual benefit gala at the Museum on Saturday, March 16, 2024.


The A Night at the Museum gala, presented by The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company for the 20th consecutive year, was celebrated throughout the facility starting with cocktails in the Living Gallery of Aquariums and concluding with dinner in The Great Hall of Shells illuminated by a wash of blue light projected across its soaring 30-foot ceiling. Live music was provided by Danny Morgan and Amy Sbarra.


The evening proved to be the most successful fundraiser in the Museum’s history, as the organization raised over $560,000 in sponsorships, live auction sales, and paddle raise donations combined. Funds raised will support the final stages of post-hurricane rebuilding and also major improvements including a redesign and expansion of the shell exhibits of the Great Hall of Shells that will transform the educational and visitor experience.


“We are deeply grateful to this community and all of the event’s sponsors for coming out and supporting the future of the Museum,’’ said Executive Director Sam Ankerson.


Visit for event photos and sponsor recognition.


About the Museum: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum & Aquarium is a natural history museum and aquarium, and the only museum in the United States devoted primarily to shells and mollusks. Its mission is to use exceptional collections, aquariums, programs, experiences, and science to be the nation’s leading museum in the conservation, preservation, interpretation, and celebration of shells, the mollusks that create them, and their ecosystems. For more information, please visit or call (239) 395-2233.