Museum Explains Role OF Florida East Coast Railway in Florida Keys


Stories of the Upper Keys is the latest permanent exhibit to be presented by the Keys History & Discovery Center in Islamorada.

It encapsulates several significant aspects of history. In addition to subjects like Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway and the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, the exhibit explores the people who carved niches for themselves and their families from a considerably more inhospitable string of islands than the paradise we live in today.

The exhibit includes storyboards, more than 50 historic images, touchscreen monitors filled with more images and more stories as well as a video component with directional sound focused downward by audio domes to reduce the impact on surrounding exhibits. The first video available is an interview with President Herbert Hoover after a fishing excursion from North Key Largo’s Angler’s Club. Also featured in the exhibit are a smattering of artifacts on loan from the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach and Upper Keys history guru Jerry Wilkinson.

“Stories of the Upper Keys is presented as seven individual panels spanning roughly 30 feet of wall space,” says curator Brad Bertelli. “While each of the seven panels is offered as an individual piece and can be appreciated that way, because of the interconnectedness of this collection of panels, the exhibit as a whole tells a larger story.”

The exhibit was designed by Bruce Merenda at Studio B Concepts, fabricated by S&L Millworks and made possible through grants and donations.

The Discovery Center is a museum, theater and gift shop offering lessons in Keys history. It’s at the Islander Resort, mile marker 82 and open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $12. Admission for seniors is $10 and children 13 and under are free. Annual memberships with a range of benefits are available.

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