Don’t wait for visiting friends and family to check out the arts, history, and culture of your hometown. Key West Art & Historical Society honors locals the first Sunday of every month with free admission to all four museums under its stewardship—the Custom House Museum, Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters, Fort East Martello Museum, and the Tennessee Williams Museum. Museum-goers can travel with ease in the summer heat because Historic Tours of America’s “hop on and off” Old Town Trolleys are also free to locals on the first Sunday of each month.
There are thirteen Old Town Trolley stops around Key West, covering the entire city. The ones closest to the four Society museums are:
· Custom House Museum: Trolley Stop #1 – Mallory Square, runs every 30 minutes at the top and bottom of each hour beginning at 9:00am with its last full tour (w/ no stops) beginning at 4:30pm.
· Tennessee Williams Museum: Trolley Stop #12 – Truval Village on the corner of Duval and Truman, beginning at 9:10am, then every 10 and 40 minutes past each hour until 4:10pm.
· Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters: Trolley Stop #12 at Truval Village or Trolley Stop #5 at Bahama Village Market, corner of Whitehead and Petronia, beginning at 9:20am, then every 20 and 50 minutes past each hour until 4:20pm.
· Fort East Martello Museum: Trolley stop #9, beginning at 9:45am, then every 30 minutes until 4:45. For a complete map of all Trolley stops and routes visit trolleytours.com/key-west/map.
Have your local ID on hand and enjoy what TripAdvisor has listed as four of the 10 best museums in Key West, open every day (except Christmas) from 10:00am -4:30pm:
Custom House Museum, 281 Front Street, the iconic four-story architectural “crown jewel” of Key West, and one of the finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in the U.S.Exhibits include:
“Islands, Imagination and Instance: Florida Keys Folk Art,” running through Sunday, January 6: Discover how folk artists Stanley Papio, Makiki, Mario Sanchez, Jack Baron, Papito Suarez, and others celebrated and expressed their cultural identity through community aesthetics.
“Powering Paradise – 75thAnniversary of Keys Energy,” July 27 through November 26: Explore the history and operations of Keys Energy Service (KEYS), the public power company utility for the Lower Florida Keys that provides electricity from Key West to the Seven-Mile Bridge.
Guy Harvey’s “The Old Man and The Sea” sketches: 59 original pen-and-ink drawings inspired by Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea,” created by internationally acclaimed artist and conservationist Guy Harvey, completed when he was a teenager. (Ongoing)
“Overseas to the Keys: Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railway,” second floor:Celebrating an important part of Florida Keys history and the incredible engineering feat that joined mainland Florida to Key West. (Ongoing)
Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters, 938 Whitehead Street. One of the most visited historic locations in Key West, now a museum restored to an early 1900s appearance with historic furnishings, photos and original artifacts depicting the life and times of generations of lighthouse keepers and their families. Climb the 88-step, circular, iron stairway of the 170-year-old lighthouse, owned by Monroe County and operated by Key West Art & Historical Society.
Tennessee Williams Museum, 513 Truman Ave. A destination for Tennessee Williams enthusiasts and scholars, the exhibit showcases highlights from the playwright’s life and work while living in Key West from 1941 until his death in 1983. The collection of historic, archival materials keeps alive the importance of his legacy and offers the largest collection of Williams’ memorabilia and literary artifacts available to the public.
Fort East Martello Museum, 3501 South Roosevelt Blvd, constructed to provide protection for Key West against the possibility of an enemy sea assault and now one of the finest preserved examples of Martello style military architecture in the United States:
“Stanley Papio – Junkyard Rebel,” permanent exhibit: Namesake of the annual Key West Art & Historical Society Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade, the rebellious welder-turned-metal-artist saw art where others saw junk.
“Ghosts of East Martello,” permanent exhibit: Pay your respects to Robert, the world’s most famous haunted doll.
For more information on these and other Society exhibits – including WPA art and works of folk artist Mario Sanchez – along with special events, classes, membership and volunteer opportunities, visit kwahs.org. Your museums. Your community. It takes an island.