SANIBEL, FL (June 1, 2021) – In celebration of its 25-year anniversary milestone, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is proud to present a new lecture series available virtually and free of charge via Zoom.

The series, which will extend through the fall, will spotlight some of the diverse connections between shells and different fields of human endeavor. “With a great program of speakers, we look forward to welcoming audience members wherever they are to learn about different ways in which shells and mollusks impact our lives, and vice versa,” said Sam Ankerson, Executive Director of the National Shell Museum.

The first four lectures of the Celebrating 25 Years series are:

June 15, 2021, 5 p.m.
“Artistic Adaptations:  2,000 Years of Seashells in Art”
By Kory Rogers, the Francie and John Downing Senior Curator of American Art of Shelburne Museum, and Jean M. Burks, Curator Emerita of Shelburne Museum

For Millenia, shells have provided artists with inspiration. Whether physically incorporated, stylistically interpreted or scientifically rendered, land and marine mollusks appear as important motifs or primary subject matter in diverse works of art. From Ancient Rome to Louis Comfort Tiffany, this program will explore the surprising interpretation of bivalves and gastropods in paintings, furniture, ceramics, glass, and metalwork historically.

Accomplished art museum curators, former colleagues, good friends, and shell collectors and enthusiasts Jean Burks and Kory Rogers are the speakers for this program. Ms. Burks is also a Sanibel resident, Shell Ambassador, and collections volunteer at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, is one of the country’s leading museums of art, Americana, and design; with collections numbering over 150,000 artifacts. This talk is the first of a short Artistic Adaptations series over the coming months that will also feature shells in adornment (jewelry and clothing) and architecture.

June 29, 2021, 5 p.m.
“Curator’s Choice: New Photographs of Extraordinary Shells, and the Digital Imaging Project at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum”
By José H. Leal, Ph.D., Science Director & Curator, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

Science Director and Curator Dr. José H. Leal presents a selection of exceptional images from the new exhibition In Focus: Precision Photography of Extraordinary and Uncommon Shells which will be on view at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum from May 29 through November 28.

Dr. Leal will discuss his choices of images, the different groups of species represented and their unique qualities, and special photographic techniques adopted to ensure a high level of richness and detail. He will also discuss the Digital Imaging Project, for which the photographs have been made, and its global scope and impact for scholars, scientists, and enthusiasts of shells and mollusks.

July 13, 2021, 5 p.m.
“Oysters: A Crystal Ball for Water Quality in Southwest Florida”
By Melissa A. May, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Marine Biology at Florida Gulf Coast University

Dr. Melissa May leads Florida Gulf Coast University’s oyster monitoring research program in Estero Bay. Oysters are mollusks and essential members of coastal water ecosystems. These shelled animals play an important role in the health of water and their reefs provide homes and food for other marine animals. They act as indicators for declines in water quality or other stressors imposed on estuarine ecosystems and help to clean the water by filtering large volumes of water through their shells. Dr. May’s talk will focus on the range of threats to the health of oysters and other mollusks in Southwest Florida (in addition to freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee), with an emphasis on new her new research program in Estero Bay.

July 27, 2021, 5 p.m.
“Supersized Squid”
By Rebecca Mensch, M.S., Senior Marine Biologist, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

Join squid expert Rebecca Mensch as she presents about the Giant Squid and the Colossal Squid. For millennia the Giant Squid has captured the imagination and inspired tales of sea beasts such as the kraken. Because of the extreme depths these magnificent mollusks live in, many questions about these animals have gone unanswered until the last two decades. With recent advances in technology, many mysteries of these two extraordinary mollusks are finally beginning to be revealed, but there is still much to learn. Rebecca shares new findings and images to tell the unique story of the Supersized Squid.

The Celebrating 25 Years lecture series is free, but registration is required at

About the Museum
The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is a Natural History Museum, and the only museum in the United States devoted solely to shells and mollusks. Its mission is to use exceptional collections, aquariums, programs, experiences, and science to be the nation’s leading museum in the conservation, preservation, interpretation, and celebration of shells, the mollusks that create them, and their ecosystems. Permanent exhibitions on view include the Great Hall of Shells which displays highlights of the Museum’s collection of some 500,000 shells, as well as the Beyond Shells living gallery of aquariums and over 50 species of marine life. For more information on the Museum, please visit or call (239) 395-2233.

Stephanie Muddell
(239) 347-5113