Key West Art and Architecture

The island paradise of Key West has attracted artists for years; our lush, tropical setting has inspired many famous works. Today, some of our local artists showcase their work in unique historical buildings; this complements the exhibits and creates a unique setting in which to enjoy their work and get a taste of island history.

For one such gallery, the final weekend of February is particularly special. The Key West Art Center will hold its 47th Annual Old Island Days Art Festival on Saturday and Sunday, February 25-26. Over 100 painters, sculptors, photographers, and other fine artists will display their work along Whitehead and Caroline Streets; these blocks will be closed to traffic for the duration of the event. Artistic themes range from contemporary to traditional, with a particular emphasis on tropical subjects. The show was originally conceived as a fundraiser for 301 Front Street building renovations; this historic building was once a grocery store, originally built in the 1850’s, rebuilt after a fire in 1886, and finally restored by the efforts of local artists and businessmen in 1960. It is the current home of the Key West Art Center, a non-profit organization that supports and showcases the work of local artists.

The Audubon House Gallery, located at 205 Whitehead Street, features a collection of art and prints by legendary artist John James Audubon. Adjacent to the gallery is the historic Audubon House Museum and Tropical Gardens. The house was constructed by Key West’s first harbor pilot, Captain John Huling Geiger, in the American Classic Revival architectural style, and a beautiful tropical garden was created on its grounds.  This appealed to Audubon during his visit in 1832; he used cuttings from the garden as background themes in many of his works. The building was scheduled for demolition in 1948 but was saved by the Mitchell Wolfson Family Foundation, restored, and furnished with antiques. Visitors can tour the home daily from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

The Key West Museum of Art & History at the Custom House features the work of several local artists as well as historical exhibits, one showcasing the life of Ernest Hemingway. The Custom House was constructed in 1891 and was home to the local post office, courthouse, and government center until it was abandoned in the 1930’s. The Custom House has undergone a $9 million restoration and now stands as a unique addition to the Key West art gallery community. Located at 281 Front Street, the museum is open daily from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

This is just a sampling of the many unique galleries of Key West.  Exquisite art and fabulous architecture are part of our rich island heritage; there is something for everyone in Key West! For over 25 years, I have been matching people with the perfect Key West home and welcoming them into our community. Contact me today by phone at Margarita Villoch, 305-304-8505, by email at, or on the web at and become a part of the Key West culture!