Longboat Key is filled with tons of little gems, hidden in the most obvious places, some near and some far. Florida Maritime Museum is one of these little gems and is only about 18 minutes away from the island. The mission of this museum is to preserve and share Florida’s maritime heritage. They make you want to come aboard to explore their journey through maritime tradition. You can find the Florida Maritime Museum in a historic Schoolhouse built in 1912 and surrounded by the grounds of the Cortez Nature Preserve. Admission to the museum is free but your donations are appreciated because they help keep the museum around.
Sponsored by Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Courts, The Florida Maritime Museum is situated on almost 4 acres of land in the noteworthy fishing village of Cortez. Cortez Village has survived many hurricanes, bouts of economic depressions and threats to their livelihood for decades. This why the residents are so passionate about preserving the past and ensuring their future by spreading the love and knowledge of maritime history. This museum was founded on the importance this fishing industry has on this region and you will hear many stories at The Florida Maritime Museum about all aspects of Florida’s maritime history. Many of the exhibits include historic photographs, models, tools, instruments, and other historically significant material relevant to Florida’s maritime culture. A research library is also housed in the museum and includes a variety of records, letters, books, plans, logs, diaries, and periodicals. You will find that many people that visit here are fascinated with the shipwrecks because the mystery of what lies beneath the ocean waves entices them to want to know more. You will learn how these sites were found, the science behind underwater archaeology, and the history behind many of the local shipwrecks.
The folk skills and heritage of Cortez’s maritime past is at risk of becoming lost due to the geographic distance between families continuously growing, the emerging technologies, and the changing ways of spreading information. Younger and older need to find a way to connect through shared experiences and the past. The Florida Maritime Museum proposes to do this by becoming home to a folk school that will teach heritage skills classes which are the skills generation after generation passed down before the conveniences of modern society. People of all ages can come to this school and be around a supportive environment where they can learn the skills of the past and truly learn what this towns culture is all about. There are currently only about 40 folk schools currently in the US, and the Folk School at Florida Maritime Museum would be the only one in Florida as of now. The Florida Maritime Museum needs $67,000 in start-up capital to get this venture off to a successful start but through the gracious generosity of the Patterson Foundation, funds will be matched 1:1 through January 31st, 2017 which means your support will be doubled!
Most people think of Longboat Key as the perfect place for family vacations but it is also the ideal place to experience culture and history. Theirs is only so much time you can spend on the beach before your mind starts to hunger for knowledge. The Florida Maritime Museum is the perfect place to feed it! Rent your vacation rental and start planning your trip to Cortez and the Maritime Museum.