Founded in 1768, New Smyrna Beach is one of Florida's oldest and most charming cities. Its unique history is preserved and presented in the New Smyrna Museum of History. An engaging experience for all ages, a visit to the museum is a must for visitors and residents alike. The focal point of the museum is an exhibit devoted to the founders of New Smyrna, an intrepid group of indentured Mediterranean colonists under the leadership of Scottish physician and diplomat, Dr. Andrew Turnbull. In addition to the New Smyrna Settlement Exhibit, there's an Interior Gallery, which gives chronological overview of area history, starting with pre-historic Florida and continuing through 11 distinct periods. Upstairs at the museum is a special exhibit of early St. John's pottery, projectile points, and other artifacts collected by the late Zelia Wilson Sweett, a noted local historian. Open Tuesday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Whether it's Native American artifacts, England's largest colonial plantation, railroad memorabilia, or pictures of life 100 years ago, you're sure to find exhibit items to satisfy your interests! Be sure to allot at least an hour if you want to delve into the details of exhibits offered here:
The first thing visitors see upon entering the museum is a wall of items straight out of Grandam's attic - or maybe Grandpa's attic. See a lifeguard flag purloined by college students and returned after 50 years by a guilty conscience. Check out a banquet menu whose offerings would land the cook in jail today.
Located in the center of the museum is our exhibit on the founding of the ill-fated "Smyrnea Settlement" in 1768. Videos, models, and artifacts tell the story of the 1,400 hard-working but hapless settlers recruited by Scottish doctor Andrew Turnbull to build a large indigo "plantation."
The Perimeter Gallery
Stroll down the hall surrounding the center exhibit to follow a timeline of New Smyrna History, starting with fossils and the earliest Americans and ending with a tribute to New Smyrna's Vietnam War veterans. Visitor favorites include beautiful embroidered tapestries made through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s, Civil War displays, fishing and hunting displays, household items from 100 years ago, and photographs of New Smyrna in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The Archaeology Lab
Although the lab is not open to the public, you can still peer through the window and catch a glimpse of our archaeologists at work and see displays of local digs and finds.
The North Room
The museum hosts special temporary exhibits here, giving local organizations or individuals a chance to showcase their collections or activities.
The second floor of the museum houses the Sweett Exhibit, an extensive collection of Native American artifacts found in New Smyrna, and the Sheldon Research Library.
The Museum Store
Purchase one-of-a-kind souvenir shirts and hats, or take your friends some delicious Minorcan condiments. Buy seeds to grow your own indigo plants. Or take home a book or two about our charming little city.
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