23 January 2023
In the heart of Islamorada stands the Keys History & Discovery Center, an off-the-beaten-path treasure trove of Florida Keys heritage, culture and art on the grounds of the Islander Resort at 82100 Overseas Highway.

February is an ideal time to attend the center’s annual winter lecture series and view local artwork created by members of the Art Guild of the Purple Isles.

“The Keys History & Discovery Center is proud to celebrate the unique culture and heritage that make this place like no other,” said Erin Muir, board member of the Keys History and Discovery Foundation, which operates the center.

Wednesday, Feb. 8, the lecture series is to spotlight local residents who have experienced the transformational history of the Keys since the 1950s. Len Rhodus, who grew up on Plantation Key, Ron Watson from Key Largo and Eddie Whiteman, raised on Islamorada’s Matecumbe islands, are to reminisce. buytickets.at/floridakeyshistorydiscoverycenter/819918

The guest lecturer Wednesday, Feb. 22, is Dr. Grace Klinges, a postdoctoral research fellow at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. She is to discuss the discovery of a prolific bacterial parasite of Caribbean acroporid, or reef-building, corals that contributes to disease susceptibility. buytickets.at/floridakeyshistorydiscoverycenter/819919

Lecture attendees can sample light appetizers with a cash bar when doors open at 5 p.m.; lectures begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are free for center members and $10 per person for nonmembers.

Through March 16, the center hosts the Art Guild of the Purple Isles’ 57th annual Members’ Judged Art Show in the upstairs Rotating Exhibits Gallery. The show features 74 original artworks in nine medium categories by 46 Art Guild artists.

The guild represents about 100 Upper Keys visual artists and is known for its plein-air sessions, field trips, art shows and support of student art education.

The two-story 7,500-square-foot Keys History & Discovery Center features permanent and rotating exhibits on the building of Henry Flagler's Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, a historical perspective on Keys fishing and a Coral Reef Exploration exhibit among others. It’s also home to a 35-seat state-of the-art theater.

The center is “a world-class facility that accurately reflects our Florida Keys in a multifaceted and interactive environment,” said Rich Russell, foundation president and board chairman.

The facility is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit keysdiscovery.com or call 305-922-2237.

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