In Uncategorized

September 4, 2019 – (Key West, FL).  Updated climate control system preserves Custom House Museum collections and exhibits

Though the reigning beauty of the Custom House is apparent, the painstaking efforts the Key West Art & Historical Society puts forth to preserve it— and what’s in it—may not be.  To date, the Society has completed five phases of a multi-phase restoration plan proposed by the building’s original restoration architect Bert Bender of Bender and Associates Architects, P.A, and launched in 2013. These include major masonry restoration of the rear of building, window restoration and hurricane proofing, electric, plumbing and fire control systems, roof repairs, and underway now, the building’s climate control system.

Climate control is essential for any museum, especially in places where frequent heat and moisture make for a deadly mix of mold and decay.  Fully-functioning climate control throughout the Custom House museum keeps the Society’s award-winning exhibitions and permanent collection archives in optimal condition.

“There are more than 25,000 objects on display or stored within the Custom House. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity, or an inability to keep steady climate, can lead to serious issues with preserving both the building and the art and artifacts inside,” says Society Executive Director Michael Gieda.

Repairs for all phases completed in the last six years have totaled over 1 million dollars, funded primarily by the Dogwood Foundation, the Monroe County TDC, the State of Florida’s Department of Historical Resources, the Helmerich Trust, The Old Island Restoration Foundation, The Society’s Capital Funds, and individual contributions.

The Society and its supporters will continue their Custom House preservation fundraising efforts on Wednesday, February 6 with their annual “Back In Time” Gala, a dazzling time-period-themed event that celebrates the historic building, which opened in 1891 as a centerpiece of federal authority in the State of Florida, originally housing the Collector of Customs, the Postal Service, Federal Courthouse and the Lighthouse 7th District Office, signifying a touchstone for the island’s lucrative trade routes and maritime industries. Vis

For more information about how you can support Custom House restoration and preservation efforts call Executive Director Michael Gieda at 305-295-6616 x 103 or visit KWAHS.ORGYour Museums.  Your Community.  It Takes an Island.  



Surrounded by artifacts, art and Key West memorabilia in the climate-controlled Custom House fourth floor collection room, Key West Art & Historical Society Curator Cori Convertito, Ph.D., holds an acid-free storage box containing a rare set of boxing gloves owned and worn by the late author and Key West resident Ernest Hemingway. (Provided photo