Shells in Architecture, Art and Human History

Cameos, Currency, Sailors' Valentines, and more...
"Here in these shells we see the housing of the life of the sea...It is a housing with exactly what we lack - inspired form." - Frank Lloyd Wright

In multiple exhibits, we explore the importance of shells to specific cultures throughout the world. From the oldest known currency, to fodder for exquisite art - find out how shells help shape human history.

Shells in Architecture

From times immemorial, shell forms have inspired crafters, builders, and architects from many cultures. See how shell shapes, patterns, and proportions have influenced architectural design throughout history.

Exhibit sponsored by the West Wind Inn of Sanibel

Sailors' Valentines

A highly prized art form developed in the early 19th century by women in Barbados and other areas of the Caribbean. These treasures crafted with shells were often brought home by sailors for their loved ones.

Cameos, Shell Inlay, Buttons and Bows

Three very specialized art and craft forms where shells are used for artistic and practical purposes. The making of such items will surprise you.

Exhibit sponsored by The Claiborne & Ned Foulds Foundation and Morton V.V. White.

Shellabration-2012 by Goz Gosselin

This intricately-crafted free standing shell "flower" arrangement is made of all natural colored shells.

Shells as Money

The money cowrie (Erosaria moneta) is the most widely circulated and longest enduring currency in history. Learn why!