The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum introduces four new classes starting this fall. “The Museum is glad to expand upon its educational mission by offering these new opportunities for shell enthusiasts at all levels, photographers, and collectors who are interested in building their knowledge base and skills,” said Sam Ankerson, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Executive Director. The classes complement the virtual 11-session lecture series that has engaged Museum followers throughout 2021, guided beach walks, keeper chats, the Adopt-A-Class K-12 school program, and other educational programming for general audiences.


The fall class lineup, taught by José H. Leal, PhD, Science Director and Curator, and Rebecca Mensch, MS, Senior Marine Biologist, is as follows:



Is that a varix or a suture? Are these nodes or spines? Written descriptions of shells have you stymied? This class is for you! This course will go over some of the more commonly used terminology in shell descriptions. Students will have a chance to reinforce their new vocabulary with interactive activities and will gain the knowledge necessary to accurately describe their shells and easily understand written descriptions in guidebooks and scientific papers.


November 11, 5-7pm: SHELL PHOTOGRAPHY

This course includes one hour of lecture, and one hour of hands-on learning. Students will learn how to photograph shells, both in nature and in a controlled environment. Additional attention will be devoted to photography of small shells and basic rudiments of Adobe Photoshop as it applies to shell photography. Students will learn methods of shell photography applicable to documentation, collection curating, social media, and art.


November 16 & 18, 2-3:30: WHAT’S THAT SHELL?

Love shelling, but not sure what you are finding? Interested in becoming a Shell Ambassador, but a little shaky on your ID skills? This class is for you! The first session of this two-part course will focus on the practice of identifying local (Southwest Florida) shells and introduce resources for identification. The second session will include hands-on time for students to use their new knowledge and resources to identify their own shells, with expert staff helping to guide and answer questions.



The first session of this two-part course will introduce shell collections, their merit, and address ideal collection organization and maintenance. This will be followed by practical considerations on curating and maintaining your personal shell collection, and how to maximize their value, both from the monetary and scientific points of view. The second session will entail hands-on curating of your own collection with professional materials and expert staff available to guide you and answer questions. Students will gain the tools necessary to properly care for and document their personal collection. Helpful for estate planning.


Visit for complete details. All classes will be held at the Museum and have a maximum of 20 students. Please contact Rebecca Mensch with inquiries or to register at [email protected]. Stay tuned for the announcement of spring classes, as well as additional in-person and virtual lectures.


About the Museum: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is a Natural History Museum, and the only museum in the United States devoted solely 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 500,000 shells, as well as the Beyond Shells living gallery of aquariums and over 50 species of marine life. For more information on the Museum, please visit or call (239) 395-2233.