The Ultimate Travel Guide to Fort East Martello Museum in Key West

Nestled in the tropical paradise of Key West, Florida, Fort East Martello Museum stands as a testament to the island’s rich history and vibrant artistic culture. This comprehensive travel guide invites you to embark on an exploration of this Civil War-era fortress turned museum, where every brick tells a story and every exhibit is a window into Key West’s fascinating past and present.

Unveiling the Fort’s Historical Layers

Origins and Construction: Dive deep into the origins of Fort East Martello, exploring its construction in 1862 during the Civil War. Learn about its strategic importance, architectural design, and the role it played in defending Key West against potential Confederate threats.

Military History: Delve into the military history of the fort, examining its service during the Civil War and subsequent repurposing for various military functions. Discover the daily lives of soldiers stationed at Fort East Martello and the impact it had on the local community.

Yellow Fever Outbreaks: Explore the fort’s role as a quarantine station during the Yellow Fever outbreaks of the early 20th century. Understand the challenges faced by the military and local residents in combating the disease and the lasting effects on Key West’s development.

The Key West Art & Historical Society Collection

Maritime Heritage: Journey through the exhibits that showcase Key West’s maritime heritage. Explore artifacts, ship models, and maritime documents that highlight the island’s historical connection to the sea.

Military Presence: Delve into the military-themed exhibits, featuring uniforms, weapons, and personal items from soldiers who once walked the fort’s grounds. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the military history that shaped Key West.

Community Chronicles: Discover the vibrant community that has shaped Key West over the years. From the island’s early settlers to the present-day inhabitants, explore the stories of the people who have made this tropical haven their home.

The Enigmatic Tale of Robert the Doll

Introduction to Robert: Uncover the mysterious and chilling story of Robert the Doll, a haunted artifact with a fascinating history. Learn about the doll’s origins, its alleged paranormal activities, and the superstitions that surround it.

The Legend Unraveled: Explore the various accounts and legends associated with Robert the Doll. Separate fact from fiction as you navigate through the tales of misfortune and eerie occurrences linked to this infamous doll.

The Impact on Popular Culture: Examine the cultural significance of Robert the Doll, as his story has permeated popular culture. From books to documentaries, understand how this seemingly innocuous doll has become a symbol of Key West’s supernatural allure.

Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Art Amongst Nature: Step into the serene outdoor sculpture garden, a haven where contemporary art meets the tropical beauty of Key West. Explore the diverse works of local artists, each piece contributing to the unique ambiance of Fort East Martello.

Featured Artists: Highlight the talented artists whose sculptures grace the garden. From established names to emerging talents, gain insights into the creative minds behind the captivating artworks.

Creating a Harmonious Space: Examine the symbiotic relationship between the outdoor sculpture garden and the historical fort. Understand how the juxtaposition of art and history creates a harmonious and contemplative environment for visitors.

Special Exhibits and Events

Rotating Exhibits: Stay updated on the ever-changing landscape of Fort East Martello through its rotating exhibits. From temporary art installations to thematic historical displays, explore the dynamic offerings that keep visitors coming back for more.

Cultural Events: Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scene of Key West by attending special events hosted at the fort. Whether it’s a historical reenactment, an art festival, or a community celebration, these events add an extra layer of excitement to your visit.

Educational Programs: Discover the educational programs offered by the museum, catering to visitors of all ages. Engage in hands-on activities, lectures, and workshops that provide a deeper understanding of Key West’s history and art.

Guided Tours

Docent-led Tours: Enhance your museum experience by joining a docent-led tour. Knowledgeable guides provide insights into the fort’s history, architecture, and the fascinating stories behind the exhibits, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of this historical gem.

Behind-the-Scenes Tours: Delve deeper into the inner workings of Fort East Martello with behind-the-scenes tours. Explore areas not usually accessible to the general public, gaining exclusive insights into the preservation efforts and ongoing research conducted at the museum.

Interactive Experiences: Participate in interactive tours designed to engage visitors of all ages. From scavenger hunts to immersive historical reenactments, these tours add an element of excitement and education to your exploration of the fort.

Visitor Information

Hours of Operation: Plan your visit with precision by familiarizing yourself with the museum’s operating hours. Ensure you have ample time to explore each exhibit and enjoy the various offerings at Fort East Martello.

Admission Fees: Understand the admission fees and any available discounts for seniors, children, and military personnel. Explore membership options for the Key West Art & Historical Society, potentially granting you free entry to this cultural treasure.

Accessibility: Fort East Martello is committed to providing accessibility for all visitors. Learn about wheelchair accessibility, assistive services, and any accommodations available to ensure that everyone can enjoy the historical and artistic wonders within the fort.

This information is subject to change, please check with the Fort East Martello for current hours and admission fees.


As you conclude your journey through this travel guide, we hope you’re inspired to embark on your own exploration of Fort East Martello Museum. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or a traveler seeking a unique cultural experience, this fortress-turned-museum offers a captivating blend of Key West’s past and present. Uncover the layers of history, be captivated by the artistry on display, and immerse yourself in the enchanting stories that make Fort East Martello an unparalleled destination in the Conch Republic.

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