Named after England’s Princess Amelia, Amelia Island, often called The Isle of 8 Flags, has a rich and complex history. To tell the tale, the Amelia Island Museum of History, now on its fourth name, has its doors open to the public.
In the late 1970s, the building that the museum is housed in today was previously a jailhouse for Nassau County. After much debate, renovation and name changes, the Amelia Island Museum of History has been transformed into a building packed with historical artifacts and exhibits.
One of the first exhibits, as you enter, is a room completely dedicated to the history of Nassau County. Unbeknownst to many, Nassau County played host to the birth of modern shrimping. This is not to suggest that people weren’t catching plenty of shrimp before, but Nassau County was the first area to use the modern otter trawl net method for catching shrimp. You can read all about it in the Nassau County exhibit!
If you have an affinity for archeology, the next room is right up your alley. This room is packed with fossils that have been found during local excavations. There are giant mammoth teeth and a sawfish rostrum on display. Since the Atlantic waters right off the coast of Amelia Island host a high concentration of sharks, there are tons of shark teeth at which to marvel.
Make sure you bring your kids for the “Margery,” the main feature of the Discovery Ship exhibit. The exhibit is modeled after an old wooden ship and makes visitors feel like they are on the deck and sailing into port. They can take a turn steering at the helm, tying knots and listen to common sailing commands in multiple languages. This interactive exhibit makes learning fun and effortless.
Europeans sailed to Amelia Island, but who inhabited the land from the beginning? The Amelia Island Museum of History has an extensive Timucuan Village exhibit that highlights the history of the natives that occupied Amelia Island.
Since the building itself used to be a jailhouse, there is an old jail cell exhibit that offers visitors a short glimpse into life as an inmate on Amelia Island–don’t worry, you can come and go as you please.
Carol, who works the front desk at the Amelia Island Museum of History, is passionate about the museum.
“The museum is kind of our little-hidden gem here on Amelia Island,” she says. “We’re all volunteers here, so everyone here truly cares about the museum and the history of the island.”
Carol also had a parting gift for the kids at the front desk.
“Oh yeah, the kids get to dig around and pick something from the treasure box on the way out,” she says. “The kids really do have fun here. The pirate ship is definitely their favorite exhibit.”
Take Carol’s advice and visit this Amelia Island gem of history.