Explore art, architecture and history at Key West Art & Historical Society museums


Above: The Tennessee Williams Museum pays tribute to the great 20th century playwright. COURTESY IMAGES

Above: The Tennessee Williams Museum pays tribute to the great 20th century playwright. COURTESY IMAGES

Did you know that all four museums stewarded by Key West Art & Historical Society — the Custom House Museum, Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters, Fort East Martello Museum and the Tennessee Williams Museum — are listed in TripAdvisor’s “10 Best Museums in Key West” list? And that 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 admission daily for out-of-county student ID holders at all locations? Here’s a sampling of what is happening now at all four museums:

Custom House Museum

281 Front St.

The iconic four-story architectural “crown jewel” of Key West, and one of the finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in the U.S.

“You Don’t Know Dick:

The Lesser Known Works of

Left: “Wish You Were Here: Postcards From Paradise” contains over 2,000 collected and digitized postcards.

Left: “Wish You Were Here: Postcards From Paradise” contains over 2,000 collected and digitized postcards.

Richard Peter Matson”

Bryan Gallery

Through July 7

Key West Art & Historical Society celebrates the work of painter Richard Peter Matson with an exhibition of works that include painted portraits from the 1970s and 1980s, photographic portraits taken as a Yale University graduate student, a series of cards from his successful greeting card business, projects created during his advertising executive days in New York City consisting of mugs and album covers for Columbia Records, decorated Christmas eggs, and paintings of non-Key West subjects such as Maine and the Grand Tetons.

“Wish You Were Here: Postcards

From Paradise”

Bumpus Gallery

Through August 11, 2019

Above: Stanley Papio kinetic sculptures are displayed at the Fort East Mortello Museum. Right: The 171-year-old, 75-foot Key West Lighthouse and Keepers Quarters are one of the most visited historic locations in Key West. COURTESY PHOTOS

Above: Stanley Papio kinetic sculptures are displayed at the Fort East Mortello Museum. Right: The 171-year-old, 75-foot Key West Lighthouse and Keepers Quarters are one of the most visited historic locations in Key West. COURTESY PHOTOS

“Wish You Were Here: Postcards From Paradise” showcases more than 130 years’ 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.

Guy Harvey’s “The Old Man and The Sea”

Ongoing

Fifty-nine original pen-and-ink drawings inspired by Hemingway’s novel of the same name, created by internationally acclaimed artist and conservationist Guy Harvey and completed when he was a teenager.

“Overseas to the Keys: Henry

Flagler’s Overseas Railway”

 

 

Dogwood Gallery

Ongoing

Celebrating an important part of Florida Keys history and the incredible engineering feat that joined Key West to mainland Florida, outstanding elements include a reproduction railroad car that transports visitors back to the early 1900s, an over-sized 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.

“Tennessee Williams –

The Playwright and the Painter”

Inner Vecchie Gallery

Ongoing

One of the most prolific playwrights of the 20th century, and a Key West resident for more than 30 years, Tennessee Williams took up painting in the 1960s. The Inner Vecchie 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

3501 South Roosevelt Blvd.

Constructed to provide protection for Key West against the possibility of an enemy invasion and now one of the only examples of Martello-style military architecture in the United States.

“Stanley Papio – Junkyard Rebel”

Ongoing

Namesake of the annual Key West Art & Historical Society Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade, Stanley Papio 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 a comical and caustic commentary on neighbors and naysayers. Today, more than 100 sculptural objects and three-dimensional constructions are housed at the Fort.

“Ghosts of East Martello”

Ongoing

Pay your respects to Robert, 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, the self-proclaimed Count von Cosel, and his passion for the beautiful but deceased Elena Milagro Hoyos Mesa, with whose body he lived until 1940 — when he was arrested for grave robbery and possession of a dead body.

Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters

938 Whitehead St.

One of the most visited historic locations in Key West

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 171-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. Ernest Hemingway, who once lived across the street from the structure, was known to use it to find his way home after nights of drinking.

Tennessee Williams Museum

513 Truman Ave.

Pays tribute to one of the greatest 20th century American playwrights

A destination for Tennessee Williams enthusiasts and scholars, the exhibit showcases highlights 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 St., first edition plays and books, images from 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. ¦

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