The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island is re-opening Wednesday, February 1 to visitors for a unique limited-time experience of shells, natural history, and perspectives of the recent events of Hurricane Ian.


Although the storm caused major damage to the Museum and reconstruction lies ahead, the facility has been cleaned out and several exhibit areas are intact and available to enjoy.


On view and available at the Museum:

  • The Great Hall of Shells, featuring over 30 exhibits of shells, their ecosystems, natural history, and cultural significance.
  • A new temporary exhibition In the Wake of the Flood: Community Photographs of Hurricane Ian and Its Aftermath.
  • A guided “Shell and Tell” experience, whereby collection experts share and explain shell species from around the world.
  • A selection of gift items for sale from the Museum Store, and the opportunity to purchase Supporting Memberships. All proceeds are in support of recovery and rebuilding efforts.


There is no required admission fee, however a minimum donation amount of $10 adult / $5 child (under 18 years old) is suggested in support of the Museum’s recovery and rebuilding. The Museum will remain open with this limited-time experience until reconstruction work begins later this spring.


‘’Although a reopening of the full museum and aquarium experience is further in the future, we are glad to be able to open now to the public for a period of time,’’ said Sam Ankerson, National Shell Museum Executive Director. ‘’We hope residents, people working through their own hurricane recovery, and visitors to the island will enjoy the Museum as a respite and resource.’’


Open hours are 11am to 3pm, Tuesday through Friday, although these hours are subject to change and visitors are encouraged to visit in advance to reconfirm.


About the Museum: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is a natural history museum, 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. Permanent exhibitions on view include the Great Hall of Shells which displays highlights of the Museum’s collection of some 550,000 shells, as well as the Beyond Shells living gallery of aquariums and over 60 species of marine life. In 2023 the Museum is under reconstruction following the impacts of Hurricane Ian. For more information please visit or call (239) 395-2233.