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Arts and Culture in Key West

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Key West isn’t all about silly souvenirs and summer break partying. This proudly eccentric island’s home to a surprisingly highbrow art scene, literature and music festivals, and an interesting and varied history highlighted by its impressive museums.

 

Museums

 

When the tropical rain starts to fall – or even if it doesn’t – Key West’s museums are a great place to while away a few hours. Whether you prefer art complexes, maritime exhibitions, or history centers, you’re bound to find an interesting space to buff up on your knowledge.

 

Fort East Martello Museum and Gallery

 

Key West Art and Historical Society oversees 3 of the island’s best museums. This one – housed in an Italian-style Martello coastal fort – exhibits relics from the Civil War as well as collections of unique artwork, including folk pieces by Mario Sanchez. It’s also home to the iconic and creepy 19th century Robert the Doll.

 

3501 S Roosevelt Blvd, Key West FL 33040. Tel:+1 305 296 3913

 

Fort East Martello Museum and Gallery website
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

 

The Nobel Prize-winning author moved to this yellow-shuttered colonial house in 1931 with his second wife. You can tour the house and lush tropical grounds – paying particular note to the rabble of 6-toed cats and Hemingway’s collection of 17th and 18th century Spanish furniture.

 

907 Whitehead Street, Key West FL 33040. Tel:+1 305 294 1136

 

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum website

 

Landmarks

 

From ramshackle churches and cigar makers’ cottages to colonial mansions and pastel-painted Caribbean weatherboard houses, Key West’s buildings are fun and varied. Among them, there’s a few standout places, including the one below.

 

Truman Little White House

 

Take a tour of this villa to learn about President Truman’s time here – he used it as his post WW2 winter White House. The interior’s lavishly decorated and only accessible on a tour, but the surrounding botanical gardens are equally splendid, and free.

 

111 Front Street, Key West FL 33040. Tel:+1 305 294 9911

 

Truman Little White House website

 

Art galleries

 

From high-end galleries showcasing upscale artworks to cool and quirky home studios, Key West has a vibrant and ever burgeoning arts scene.

 

Studios of Key West

 

If you’re unsure where to start when getting to grips with the island’s creative side, this non-profit organization is well-known as the heart of Key West’s arts world. The gallery space is home to a selection of artists’ studios where you can check out public exhibitions, workshops, and festivals.

 

533 Eaton Street, Key West FL 33040 . Tel:+1 305 296 0458

 

Studios of Key West website

 

Religious sites

 

Key West’s varied history has seen African, Caribbean, British Bahamian, Spanish, and US influences, each leaving stamps of their own faiths and cultures. If you’re looking for crumbly old churches head to the Bahamian District centered on Thomas and Petronia Streets. And then there's this unique must-see…

 

Key West Cemetery

 

A grand maze of white mausoleums pokes out from the center of colorful Key West. It's an oddly alluring space for a wander, and make sure to look out for typical island idiosyncrasies – some of the gravestones here have rather amusing inscriptions.

 

701 Passover Lane, Key West FL 33040. Tel:+1 305 292 8177

 

Key West Cemetery website