Florida Keys History and Discovery Center


82100 Overseas Hwy,
Islamorada, FL 33036








Tuesdays through Sundays,
10:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m.


General Admission: $15
Seniors: $12.50
Students: $6
Children under 6: free

The Florida Keys were originally inhabited by Calusa and Tequesta Indians, and were later charted by Juan Ponce de León in 1513. De León named the islands Los Martires ("The Martyrs"), as they looked like suffering men from a distance. "Key" is derived from the Spanish word "cayo", meaning small island.

Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation formed in 2013 to develop and operate the Keys History & Discovery Center. The Center focuses on a diverse cross-section of history and ecology to accurately reflect the history of the Florida Keys community in a multi-faceted and interactive environment.

The Florida Keys History & Discovery Center occupies a two-story facility encompassing 7,500 square feet. The ground floor explores the unique ecology of the Florida Keys as well as the incredible history associated with the island chain — especially the history of the Upper Keys. The second floor hosts a series of traveling exhibitions reflecting upon the nature, art or history of the Florida Keys. The exhibits are funded in part by a grant from the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys and the nearby Tea Table, Indian, and Lignumvitae Keys have been an important focal point of human activity from very early times. Five archeological sites on these islands suggest that prehistoric peoples found the region suitable for living.  Study of historic source material on the Keys also shows the importance of the region to later Native American Indians and Europeans.  The very name, Matecumbe, is the only place name in South Florida which dates from the sixteenth century and is still used to designate the same or approximate location as at that time. [from "The Indians and History of the Matecumbe Region" by John M. Goggin]

The permanent exhibit, "Florida Keys First People", explores the presence of prehistoric people in the Florida Keys through a mixture of artifacts uncovered in local middens and mounds. In addition, firsthand descriptions of these Native Americans from early European observations are offered. This exhibit provides an overview of the Calusa, Tequesta and Matecumbe cultures and how they relate to the Paleoindians who first settled along the shores of Lake Mayaimi (called Lake Okeechobee today) over 10,000 years ago.

page information credit: Keys History & Discovery Center, Florida Division of Historical Resources, Wikipedia, 
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors