The Butterfly Rainforest will be closed due to weather Jan 17-18. Behind-the-scenes tours available on Thursday. More Info

Free admission

Journey through a South Florida estuary and learn why they are one of the richest ecosystems on Earth and how they have supported people for thousands of years, including the powerful Calusa who once controlled all of South Florida.

  • Mangrove Boardwalk
    Stroll through a full-scale mangrove forest and mud flat full of plants, animals, light and sound to explore the nature of these rich coastal ecosystems.
  • Natural Habitats Center
    Why are estuaries so rich? Delve deeper with a hands-on discovery wall, touch screens, videos and more.
  • Underwater Walk-Through
    Imagine you are a small fish as you enter a 12-times life-size underwater scene to discover tiny organisms that sustain the estuary.
  • Fishing Heritage
    This artifact-rich gallery highlights 6,000 years of fishing along Florida’s Gulf coast, including a 1,000-year-old fishing net and canoe paddle.
  • Calusa Leader’s House
    Enter a palm-thatched building and find yourself in a Calusa leader’s house during a political ceremony in the year 1564.
  • Native American Legacy Gallery
    Get a close-up view of some of the most rare and interesting objects in the Museum’s South Florida archaeology collections, among them a famous 1,000-year-old painting of a woodpecker and other works of art in wood.
  • Today’s South Florida Indian People
    Learn about the vibrant traditions of the Indian people who live in South Florida today—the Seminole and Miccosukee.

  • People lived and fished on Florida’s Gulf coast long before the first pyramids were built in Egypt.
  • The Calusa built towns, engineered canals and followed complex religious, political and artistic traditions.
  • Estuaries are bodies of water where freshwater flowing off the land meets and mixes with salt water of the sea. They are often called “cradles of the ocean” because many fish and shellfish spend all or part of their lives there.

This exhibition is made possible by generous gifts from:

  • Dr. and Mrs. David A. Cofrin
  • Jessie Ball duPont Fund
  • Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources
  • Anina Hills Glaize
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Residents of Sanibel and Captiva
  • The State of Florida
  • Raymond Stober Family

Additional funding provided by:

  • Robert and Anne Boomer
  • Florida Humanities Council
  • New York Times Foundation
  • Ruth and Vernon Taylor Foundation