July 24, 2019 – (Key West, FL). Locals and visitors can explore art, architecture, and history at four Key West Art & Historical Society museums
Did you know that the four museums stewarded by Key West Art & Historical Society—Custom House Museum, Key West Lighthouse & Keepers Quarters, Fort East Martello Museum, and Tennessee Williams Museum—are listed in TripAdvisor’s “The 10 Best Museums in Key West?” And, the Society offers free admission to locals with ID on the first Sunday of each month, free admission daily to Monroe County students with a student ID, and $5.00 admission daily for out-of-county student ID holders at all locations. Here is a sampling of what is happening now:
Custom House Museum, the iconic four-story architectural “crown jewel” of Key West and one of the finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in the U.S.. 281 Front Street:
“The Restless Eye // The Visions of Olga Manosalvas,” Bryan Gallery through September 30. The exhibit – a spectacular amalgam of acrylics, oils, embroidery and found objects – highlights the works of Florida Keys-based and internationally exhibited painter and sculptor Olga Manosalvas.
“Wish You Were Here: Postcards from Paradise,” Bumpus Gallery, through August 11, 2019, showcases more than 130years’ worth of vintage images taken from Key West Art & Historical Society’s archives, a repository that contains over 2,000 collected and digitized postcards. The exhibit features aesthetically engaging cards in original, reproduction, and enlarged formats as well as information on the many facets of postcard collecting and their influence on social, economic, and architectural history.
Ongoing: 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 when he was a teenager.
Ongoing: “Overseas to the Keys: Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railway”celebrates an important part of Florida Keys history and the incredible engineering feat that joined mainland Florida to Key West. Outstanding elements include a railroad car that transports visitors back to the early 1900s, an oversized map of the Florida Keys, home video shot from the railroad in the 1920s, and related objects and ephemera from the Society’s permanent collection. Supported by the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, Thomas Kenan, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, and Lamont Harris.
Ongoing: “Tennessee Williams – The Playwright and the Painter,” Inner Vecchie Gallery. One of the most prolific playwrights of the 20thcentury and a Key West resident for more than 30 years, Tennessee Williams took up painting in the 1960s. The gallery showcases 15 of his paintings dating from the 1970s, all bequeathed to Key West Art & Historical Society by friend and benefactor David Wolkowsky.
Fort East Martello Museum, a Civil War erafort constructed to provide protection against enemy sea assault and now one of the finest preserved examples of Martello style military architecture in the United States. 3501 South Roosevelt Blvd:
“Stanley Papio – Junkyard Rebel,” a permanent exhibit of more than 100 sculptural objects and three-dimensional constructionsthat gives tribute to the American folk artistwho saw art where others saw junk. For more than three decades, the rebellious welder-turned-metal-artist transformed the “trash” in his Key Largo yard into extraordinary works of art, many of them comical and caustic commentary on neighbors and naysayers. Today, Papio is celebrated annually during the Key West Art & Historical Society Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade
“Ghosts of East Martello,” a permanent exhibit of the world’s most famous haunted doll whose mesmerizing and eerie history began just after the turn of the 20th century when he was created by the Steiff Company and given to young Gene Otto, son of a prominent Key West doctor. Delve into the bizarre but true lore of Carl Tanzler, self-proclaimed Count von Cosel, and his passion for the beautiful, but unfortunately deceased, Elena Milagro Hoyos Mesa, with whom he lived until 1940, when he was arrested for grave robbery and possession of a dead body.
Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters, one of the most visited historic locations in Key West. 938 Whitehead Street:
Explore the Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters, 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. Once a beacon for the island with its Fresnel lens that shined 11 nautical miles out to sea, the 75-foot tower also served to guide those on land.
Tennessee Williams Museum pays tribute to one of the greatest 20thcentury American playwrights. 513 Truman Ave:
A destination for Tennessee Williams enthusiasts and scholars, the exhibit showcases displays objects from his life and work while living in Key West from 1949 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. Displays include artist Jane Rohrschneider-Carper’s model of the playwright’s home at 1431 Duncan Street, first edition plays and books, images from the late local photographer Don Pinder, and original steps from the film adaptation of Williams’ play “The Rose Tattoo,” which was filmed entirely in Key West.
For more information on these and other Society exhibits – including WPA art and works of folk artist Mario Sanchez – along with hours of operation, membership and volunteer opportunities, visit kwahs.org. Your museums. Your community. It takes an island.
Image: The Custom House Museum, 281 Front Street, is one of four museums stewarded by Key West Art & Historical Society where locals can enjoy free admission on the first Sunday of each month.