Williams Academy Museum
Southwest Florida’s first African-American history museum debuted in 2001.
The Williams Academy Museum in Fort Myers maintains exhibits and a living history classroom.
This two-room white wooden building built in 1942 is steeped in history, having once served as
an elementary school.
It was an addition to the original academy built in 1912.
Exhibit topics include chronological history, religion, education, pioneers, military and law enforcement,
business and community service, and sports.
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Museum of the Islands
Pine Island’s natural history is showcased at Museum of the Islands.
Here, visitors can see the island’s unique past, from the days of the Calusa Indians to the
early fishing pioneers.
The centerpiece is the museum’s authentic palm-thatched kitchen, complete with utensils and
other household items used by early settlers.
Additional highlights include artifacts from the Calusa Indians, as well as exhibits on
A gift shop features unusual local crafts, books and T-shirts.
Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for children ages 6 to 16, free to children under 6.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m., closed Mondays
and major holidays. For current hours, call (239) 283-1525.
Barbara Sumwalt Museum
The "Useppa Man" is the unequivocal star attraction at the Barbara Sumwalt Museum, among the
area’s most uncommon attractions.
Located on Useppa Island, the museum’s exhibits tell the 11,000-year history of man on this coastal island.
Useppa Man is a forensic restoration of skeletal remains unearthed during an archaeological dig
here in 1989 by the University of Florida.
Other enticements include the "Useppa Woman," found during the restoration of the Collier Inn,
and information about Useppa’s role in the Seminole and Civil wars.
The museum is open daily year-round from noon to 2 p.m. Audio tours are available.
Requested donation is $3. Because the island is accessible only by boat, dock space must be reserved.
Call the Useppa Island Club at (239) 283-1061 for information on docks or boat transportation.
For general information, call (239) 283-9600.
Sanibel Historical Village and Museum
Compared to some of the island museums, the Sanibel Historical Village and Museum seems almost modern.
In addition to museum exhibits and displays that tell the island’s history from the time of
the Calusa Indians, there is a quaint village dedicated to pioneer families of Sanibel and Captiva.
Village highlights range from "Uncle" Clarence Rutland’s home, Bailey’s General Store and the 1926
post office to Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room, Burnap Cottage and a Morning Glories 1926 Sears Roebuck kit
home and vacation retreat.
Connected by a handicapped-accessible boardwalk, all structures are furnished with authentic period antiques.
Other displays include a pioneer garden, antique Model-T truck and replica packing-house.
The Historical Village and Museum is open from the beginning of November through mid-August,
Wednesday through Saturday with varying hours.
A donation of $5 per adult is suggested.
Southwest Florida Museum of History
Back on the mainland, the Southwest Florida Museum of History offers graphic depictions and artifacts of the area’s earliest influences, beginning in 800 B.C. and including the contributions of the Calusa and Seminole Indians, and Spanish explorers. The museum is housed in the Atlantic Coastline Railroad Depot, a local landmark built in 1924 that has been thoughtfully restored. In addition to an exhibit of the WWII Buckingham and Page Field airports, a collection of early American pressed glass and various regional artifacts together with an impressive collection of photographs and memorabilia reflect the life of local pioneers.
The Esperanza, a plush, private rail car from the 1930s, is one of the museum’s main draws.
The museum also offers educational programs, rotating exhibits and a shop stocked with historical books
and materials, as well as unique gift items.
Tours of exhibits take about 90 minutes.