Explore Arts and Culture in the Florida Keys

When you want a break from the sun and sea of the Keys there are plenty of options. We’ve done the research for you, so you can easily explore culture in the Florida Keys.

Museums

Florida Keys History & Discovery Center, Islamorada

The Florida Keys History & Discovery Center is located in the heart of Islamorada, on the property of the Islander Resort. It’s a great place to learn about the history, geography, nature, and art associated with this chain of islands. It’s a great way to learn about the story of this area in an educational and entertaining way.

Learn about the notorious pirates of the early 19th century. Find out about the “wreckers” who helped with rescues and salvage of shipwrecks. Discover stories of the 1733 Spanish Treasure Fleet that destroyed by a hurricane.

Check out the three aquariums that explain the Keys’ unique coral reef ecosystem.

History of Diving Museum, Islamorada

History of Diving Museum began as a private collection of diving gear. The collectors traveled the world and gathered artifacts from over 30 different countries.

Today, the museum offers interactive exhibits, tours, and educational programs. Visitors of all ages can enjoy interactive activities throughout the museum. It’s great place to visit to explore beneath the surface.

Key West Art & Historical Society

The Key West Art & Historical Society has been responsible for preserving the cultural heritage of the Keys for over 65 years.

The oversee four historic museum properties: the Custom House Museum, the Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters Museum, Fort East Martello Museum, and the Tennessee Williams Museum. They oversee over 35,000 objects highlighting the people and events that shaped the Florida Keys.

Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum

In the mid-19th century shipwrecks were common off the Keys. The Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum will take you back to that era.

They offer several different ways to experience the past. Guests can interact with reenactors to hear how they navigated dangerous waters. Or view artifacts from a 19th century shipwreck. This unique Museum is a gem!

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West

1931 author Ernest Hemingway and his wife settled into this 1951 house. Today, the Ernest Hemingway Home is a National Historical Landmark. It’s the largest residential property on Key West.

The house has the original furnishings chosen by the Hemingways. Beautiful gardens surround the house. The in-ground swimming pool was the first of its kind in 1938. Animal lovers will enjoy seeing the six-toed cats that live here. They are descendants of Hemingway’s pet cat.

Key West Firehouse Museum

The building is the original Fire Station No. 3, built in 1907. It is one of the oldest fire stations in the State of Florida.

Check out a 1929 pumper truck. Visitors can see a demonstration of how original alarm boxes worked. Explore the crew quarters, including the original fire pole.  Firefighting has come a long way in the last 100 years! This small museum is only open Tuesday through Saturday, but it’s worth the effort to fit it into your schedule.

Art and Crafts Galleries

Key West has been a haven for artists for over 200 years. The island has served as inspiration for their work. Here are some galleries you won’t want to miss.

Audubon House Gallery of Natural History, Key West

The Audubon House Gallery is home to works by John James Audubon. The collection features his original 19th century illustrations. Included are landscapes and many of his famous bird portraits. The museum exhibits works of other artists inspired by natural beauty.

The house itself is full of history. It was built in the mid-1800’s by Captain John Huling Geiger, Key West’s first harbor pilot. The beautiful grounds planted by Geiger inspired Audubon during a visit in 1832. Audubon used the plants as backdrops for his many bird portraits.

Alan S. Maltz Gallery, Key West

Alan Maltz is considered one of Florida’s greatest photographers. His images give a unique view of Florida. They feature wildlife, landscapes, and architecture.  His most significant achievement was a large-scale project begun in 2008 for the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.

Maltz’s “Old Florida Collection” was inspired by postcards from the early 20th century.

Jag Gallery, Key West

Modern art loves will want to check out the Jag Gallery. This gallery opened in early 2020. It features contemporary works by local artists.

Key West Pottery (formerly Honest Works Island Pottery Company)

Key West Pottery opened in 2009 to showcase the works of potters Adam Russell and Kelly Lever. Over the past decade, the gallery has expanded. Now artisans, advisors, and students collaborate to create an expressions of coastal life.

All of the artwork is created in the Florida Keys. Come and enjoy their special brand of tropical modernism. It’s all quirky, distinctive, yet diverse enough to fit into any collection.

Performing Arts Venues

Marathon Community Theatre

Marathon Community Theatre brings drama, comedy, and musicals to life.  Talented local volunteers star in and produce all the shows. They also offer dance lessons.

The Tennessee Williams Theatre, Key West

The Tennessee Williams Theatre is located on the Key West Campus of the College of the Florida Keys. This state-of-the-art facility, named for the famous playwright, offers a wide variety of productions: locally produced plays; touring road companies performing musicals, dance, and opera; and a variety of concerts, including the Key West Symphony Orchestra and the Key West Pops.

Waterfront Playhouse, Key West

The Waterfront Playhouse has been entertaining audiences for over 80 years. This 150-seat theatre presents a variety performances. Over the years, locals and well-known actors have taken to the stage here.

Red Barn Theatre, Key West

The Red Barn was built as a carriage house in 1829. The “barn” was later adopted by a group of actors and used as a theatre.

Today, the Red Barn Theatre is a foundation for the Key West cultural community. It has earned a national reputation for creating big performances in a small space.

While you are out exploring all the Keys culture, stop a few of the other fantastic destination on our list.

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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