Museums and Galleries Walk, Key West

Museums and Galleries Walk (Self Guided), Key West

Key West offers some unique and exceptional museums related to the history and location of the city. As it is situated on an island, this place was often visited by pirates in the past, and so there are many museums about pirates. The famous American writer Ernest Hemingway lived here and there is a museum dedicated to him. Key West is also the birthplace of some really famous artists. You can admire their art in the galleries on this picturesque island.This self-guided tour will take you through some of the best museums and galleries of the city.
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Museums and Galleries Walk Map

Guide Name: Museums and Galleries Walk
Guide Location: USA » Key West (See other walking tours in Key West)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Turtle Kraals Museum
  • Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum
  • Key West Museum of Art & History
  • Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
  • Wyland Gallery
  • Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
Turtle Kraals Museum

1) Turtle Kraals Museum

The Turtle Kraals Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world. It is about sea turtles, and you can see these endangered species here. Key West was the city where turtles were canned and shipped throughout the world at a time when turtle meat was a delicacy. Before the Caribbean turtles were slaughtered, the hunters kept them in cages in the docks that were called 'kraals', hence the name of the museum.

Hours: Thursday-Sunday: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm.
Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum

2) Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum (must see)

Combining actors, films and actual artifacts, this museum attempts to tell the story of four centuries of shipwreck salvage in the Florida Keys. Itself a re-creation of a 19th-century warehouse built by wrecker tycoon Asa Tift, the museum displays many artifacts from the 1985 rediscovery of the wrecked vessel Isaac Allerton, which sank in 1856 on the Florida Keys reef and turned out to be one the richest shipwrecks in the city's history, having resulted in the Federal Wrecking Court's largest monetary award for the salvage of a single vessel. Also included are relics from Spanish galleons, including a silver bar salvaged from the Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas that guests are encouraged to try to lift. Once they make it to the top floor, guests can also walk up the lookout tower for a great view of the harbor and most of Key West.

Why You Should Visit:
To learn about the many interesting artifacts and history of the shipwrecks that made Key West one of the richest towns in the US. At the same time, you can get a great discount by buying combo tickets for other Key West museums.

Taking a small flashlight, to read many of the signs and posters or labels, would be quite helpful.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am–5:30pm
Key West Museum of Art & History

3) Key West Museum of Art & History

On off-weather days, this museum is a great place to visit for the terrific artwork on display, as well as for the wonderful educational boards and artifacts to delight history buffs as well as a more general audience. A tremendous exemplar of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, the structure was built in 1891 with red bricks brought from New York, iron from Pennsylvania and workers from the whole country. Exhibits include local history, famous personalities such as Ernest Hemingway, maritime history, and works by long-ago local artists with many talents and backgrounds. Overall, it's an affordable, comprehensive, and air-conditioned experience. Easy access to the upper floor containing touring exhibitions.

Be sure to make time for the gift shop – a gold mine of top quality items at reasonable prices; not exactly what one would expect in a beach town. Books by local authors, art, fun decor pieces, jewelry... So many pretty things!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am–4:30pm
Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

4) Mel Fisher Maritime Museum (must see)

The story of Mel Fisher and his discovery of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha along with its treasures are near what fantasy dreams are made of and what epitomizes the cultural attitudes behind the Conch Republic – Key West's strange-but-true 1982 "secession" from the United States. In a way, the story really has it all, and when reading it and viewing the artifacts, the looting, the scheming, the treachery, the deaths and tragedies can all come to light.

This museum is exactly what it advertises and is filled with interesting finds from the 17th-century Atocha vessel: stunning jewelry, coins, part of the hull and so much more, as well information on wreckers and pirates on the upper floor. There is also a very interesting section on the slave trade and another on Cubans doing what they can to reach America – but even more important is the fully operating Conservation & Archaeology lab, where admittance is allowed during a private Lab Tour that allows touching the artifacts while learning about their various stages of conservation. Some, depending on type and density, can take anywhere from weeks to years for full conservation before being placed on display!

Take the Conservation Lab Tour (extra fee) conducted by the extremely knowledgeable marine archaeologist who will take you through each step of the process from discovery to de-encrustation and preservation of artifacts. Plus it's really cool to be able to actually handle an encrusted artifact from a shipwreck and see all of the tools being used!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8:30am–5pm; Sat, Sun, Holidays: 9:30am–5pm

Lab Tours:
Mon-Fri: 11:30am–2pm (Holidays excluded)
Wyland Gallery

5) Wyland Gallery

Wyland is a world famous marine life painter and sculptor. He created many sculptures of dolphins, life sized whale, serenes, etc. Wyland Gallery in Key West displays works by Wyland and other contemporary artists. The entrance to the gallery is marked by a fountain with three dolphins, sculptures created by Wyland. The most beautiful collection is Wyland's extraordinary marine life bronzes. His art is aimed at protecting sea life.

Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum

6) Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum (must see)

Ernest Hemingway's house and beautiful garden in the heart of Old Town Key West was transformed into a museum that tells us something about the life and career of one of the most well-known American writers. A National Historic Landmark that attracts crowds of tourists, this was Hemingway's home from 1931 to 1939, where the famous author wrote some of his best novels. He retained title to the home until he died, which is now a private, for-profit landmark and tourist attraction populated by six and seven-toed cats that are descendants of Hemingway's own cats. They only take cash on the door so make sure you have some.

Why You Should Visit:
The house is terrific, the Hemingway memorabilia is great, the guided tour comes at no extra cost, and you can afford yourself the time to explore the grounds (with a small pond) on your own.

Don't miss the sad but adorable six-toed kitty graveyard in the back.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm

Walking Tours in Key West, Florida

Create Your Own Walk in Key West

Create Your Own Walk in Key West

Creating your own self-guided walk in Key West is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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