Not only is New Smyrna Beach a place to enjoy the beautiful sand and waters, it’s also a place of great history. The New Smyrna Museum of History is a great place to learn more about some of that rich history. It’s the perfect spot to head to if you get a rainy day on vacation, or even if you’re just a history buff looking to learn more about the area you’re vacationing in!
There are several exhibits to visit at the museum, which is conveniently located just off Canal Street in the historic district of New Smyrna Beach. The focus of the museum is on the founders of New Smyrna Beach, but there are also exhibits that feature art, documents, books, and earlier settlements in the area.
The exhibits take you through from the very beginning of New Smyrna Beach to today, highlighting the intriguing history of the area. The museum’s building is a historical attraction as well. It was built in the mid 1920s and severed as a post office for 4 decades. Smaller displays rotate a few times a year to bring in even more historical value!
The Perimeter Gallery
This part of the museum offers a chronological look at the history of New Smyrna Beach. It starts with pre-history and works its way through various time periods. You’ll see St. John’s period pottery, plus tapestries by a local seamstress, a dugout canoe, and more. Some notable objects you’ll also see here include a printing press, Civil War Artifacts, and photos from the 1800s up to present day.
The New Smyrna Settlement Exhibit
The story of the New Smyrna Beach settlers is one of people who risked everything to start a new life. And it wasn’t easy. The settlers faced hardships including the weather, insects, illness, and overwork.
A man named Dr. Andrew Turnbull was set on creating an agricultural enterprise. He recruited settlers to make the voyage to Florida to produce indigo, corn, rice, and other products for the British Mercantile economy.
It is considered the largest British attempt to colonize North America at any one time.
With limited supplied Dr. Turnbull eventually asked financial help from his partners and the British government to keep the settlement going.
Throughout this part of the museum you’ll see several videos explaining the attempt by Dr. Turnbull. You’ll also see representations of the ships that were used to come to New Smyrna Beach in 1768, a 3-dimentional view of the original site, and an interactive station to learn more about the story.
At the end of this part of the settlement exhibit are several different video sets. These play videos with more than a half hour of interviews from local descendants of the original settlers.
The top floor of the museum is home to a special exhibit that features early St. John’s pottery and several other historic artifacts. A local historian has collected many of these pieces.
At the New Smyrna Museum of History you’ll also find the Sheldon Research Library. This houses document, books, periodicals, maps, and photographs. These all contribute to learning about the history of New Smyrna Beach. Make sure you schedule an appointment if you plan to look through any of these items, because it is generally not open to the public.
The museum has so many things to do for a fun and educational filled day of activities. The family friendly exhibits are sure to be interesting and informative for everyone who visits. There’s no admission to the museum, but donations are encouraged. The museum is also known to put on several historical programs throughout the year in an effort to bring you even closer to the history of this beautiful place.