Explore Arts and Culture in Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida is known for the natural beauty of the Everglades. But it’s also known for museums, galleries, theatres, and other culture.

Check out these southwest Florida places and cultural activities you won’t want to miss.

Museums

The Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers

Explore the neighboring compounds of inventors Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. These two men weren’t just great inventors, they were great friends.

Stroll the beautiful grounds, step into their homes, and visit their workshops. Learn about the advances the two made in technology and sceince amidst this tropical paradise.

Ford purchased his winter home “The Mangoes” in 1916. Edison was already next door at his “Seminole Lodge.” Both homes are preserved as they were over 100 years ago.

The museum complex includes a 15,000 square foot museum. Plant lovers will be amazed by the 20 acres of gardens which include plants from Edison and Ford’s lifetimes. Car buffs will enjoy the historic car collection housed on site. Start inventing your visit here.

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is known for its great shells. It makes sense then that it’s home to The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. This is the only museum in U.S. devoted solely to shells and the creatures that call them home. Started as a personal collection in 1984, it is now an international resource.

The museum has more than 30 permanent exhibits. Learn how shells, and their inhabitants, have shaped our nation’s culture, art, and medicine.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Clewiston

In the heart of the Everglades is the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. Learn more about the region’s history and people can explore the Reservation’s museum. The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki  ,which translates to “a place to learn or remember,” in Seminole.

This state of the art facility houses over 180,000 artifacts. Exhibits feature traditional clothing, crafts, and military artifacts.

You can walk through the 66-acre cypress dome on an elevated boardwalk. You may even spot some of the many native species of wildlife that live in the Everglades.

At the end of the boardwalk, you’ll arrive at the Living Village, where Tribal artisans demonstrate their skills. You can observe and purchase traditional woodcarvings, beaded jewelry, basketry, and patchwork.

IMAG History & Science Center, Fort Myers

The IMAG History & Science Center has over 60 hands-on exhibits for visitors of all ages. Check out the state-of-the-art 3D virtual reality experience that will take you back 150 years.

Learn about Florida’s marine life up close and personal! Feed a stingray or pet a horseshoe crab in the “Sea-to-See Touch Tank.”

Enjoy a 3D movie in the Theatre-in-the-Tank. Marvel at the 3,200-gallon aquarium built by Animal Planet’s Tanked. The Youngest kiddos will love the Mini Museum early childhood area.

Art Museums and Galleries

Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center brings world-class art events to Southwest Florida. Audiences can enjoy concerts, art exhibitions, and lectures.

Every month the Center features new exhibits from local and world-renowned international artists. Their music series delivers concerts in jazz, classical, tribute bands, and bluegrass.

The Baker Museum, Naples

The Baker Museum is part of Artis-Naples. They offer performing arts programs and courses. Topics include music, film, dance, comedy, and fine art.

The Museum focuses on modern and contemporary arts. Visitors can explore the permanent collection, or check out changing exhibits from around the world. Children can enjoy educational programs and their ArtSmart summer camp.

Fort Myers Art Walk

Join thousands of art lovers the first Friday of every month as they explore the galleries of the Fort Myers River District. The Fort Myers Art Walk is held rain or shine. Check out new exhibits, art demonstrations, and meet the artists!

There’s something here for lovers of all types of art and culture. In addition to the visual arts, there’s live entertainment, spirits, and great food.

Performing Arts

Gulfshore Playhouse, Naples

Gulfshore Playhouse is a non-profit professional, self-producing, regional theatre. They put on six professional productions each year, from October through May. They also present the annual New Works Festival. This program brings in playwrights, directors, and actors from around the country to creation and premiers new productions.

Florida Repertory Theatre, Fort Myers

The Florida Repertory Theatre is an award-winning regional theatre. Performances take place in the Historic Arcade Theatre. This restored 393-seat auditorium was originally a Vaudeville house and movie theatre.

The theatre presents professional and community productions. It’s also a great place for young audiences to learn about theatre history and performace arts. The Theatre Conservatory Program offers classes for actors of all ages. Click here to learn more about the “Florida Rep.

Cultural Park Theatre, Cape Coral

Cape Coral’s Cultural Park has something for everyone. The complex houses a theatre, the Cape Coral Historical Society and Museum, and the Cape Coral Art League.

The 184 seat community theatre gives locals a creative outlet. They can audition to participate  in productions, or help out backstage.

The company also produces original works by local writers. They host a summer concert series, and a film festival.

Children can join educational programs in acting and stagecraft.

Artis-Naples

Artis-Naples is a cultural complex with two performance halls. Audiences can enjoy a variety of fine arts programing. Including classical and “pops” music, dance, films, concerts, and Broadway-style shows.

It is also home to the Naples Philharmonic and their chorus.Β Artis-Naples also presents the Miami City Ballet and other internationally-renowned dance companies.

While in the ara, grab a bite to eat or check out these great shopping locations.

Written by Marsha Adelson

Marsha AdelsonMarsha is a retired Federal Employee, having spent 32+ years as a cartographer creating aeronautical navigation maps. After retiring, she started a second career as a Certified Tour Manager and Tour Guide. Although she focuses on guiding visitors to the Washington, DC area, she has escorted groups to many other places in the mid-Atlantic region. She’s had a lot of experience taking groups to museums, galleries, concerts, and staying in a wide variety of hotels and inns. In addition, she and her partner have traveled cross-country in a motorhome from Maryland to Fairbanks, Alaska and back, visiting many National Parks along the way.


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