Dry Tortugas Museum Section

Dry Tortugas Museum

The Dry Tortugas National Park Historic Interpretive Center is a free exhibit located in Key West’s Historic Seaport, known as the “Bight.” Exhibits include an 11-foot diameter scale model of Fort Jefferson, an interactive diorama that explores the Fort, a Junior Ranger Exploration Station, and a knot tying station. The exhibits are housed inside the Sails to Rails Museum at Flagler Station.

By touring the museum, Key West visitors will learn about one of our nation’s most unusual and remote National Parks and Key West’s unique nautical heritage, whether they decide to visit the Park or not. There is something of interest for any age in various components of the exhibits, as you can see:

“Guardian of the Gulf” Section

A scale model of Ft. Jefferson inside the Dry Tortugas Interpretive Center “Guardian of the Gulf” Tablet
“Guardian of the Gulf”

An HO (1:87) scale model of historic Fort Jefferson and Garden Key is the centerpiece of the Museum. The model measures 11 feet across, showing the truly immense scale of the fort itself. It represents the state of the fort in the post-Civil War period, approximately 1870. A number of structures in the parade ground at that time no longer exist; they are included in the model as “ghost” structures to show the extent of the deterioration over time. Period-accurate scale figures portray a number of scenes from the daily life of soldiers, prisoners, and workers at the fort. A 5-minute audio/visual presentation highlights and explains many of the interesting architectural aspects of fortifications of the period and the hardships involved in living and working in such a remote location. The entire rear wall of the Museum displays the beautiful tropical vista surrounding Garden Key, including the Loggerhead Key Lighthouse seen as it would be from the fort’s wall.

“My Name Is Mudd” Section

A 3-D likeness of Samuel Mudd, a doctor who was a prisoner at Ft. Jefferson, sitting at a desk “My Name Is Mudd” Tablet “My Name Is Mudd” Mobile
“My Name Is Mudd”

While the origin of the phrase is not directly related to Dr. Samuel Mudd, the story of the doctor’s tenure at Fort Jefferson captures the trials and tribulations of those who lived on the “dry” island. Arguably the Fort’s most famous prisoner, Dr. Mudd appears as a life-size, full figure sculpture in Civil War-period attire attending to a patient, also accurately represented. An interpretive panel discusses highlights of Dr. Mudd’s strange journey from country physician to imprisoned Lincoln co-conspirator to hero of the yellow fever epidemic.

“Junior Park Ranger Exploration Station” Section

A display inside the Dry Tortugas Interpretive Center for Junior Rangers to learn about the indigenous turtles found in the Dry Tortugas “Junior Park Ranger Exploration Station” Tablet
“Junior Park Ranger Exploration Station”

This hands-on station has child-friendly displays of the Dry Tortugas from above and below the water. Sea turtles, conchs, octopus and sharks are all on display, as well as a station to learn how to tie maritime knots. Young visitors learn about the authentic historic and natural objects during their journey to understanding the rich past of the Dry Tortugas and the future of this fragile island through conservation and preservation.  The exhibit emphasizes careful interaction with the exhibit subjects in the real world.

Download Jr. Ranger Handbook and Certificate

Location Section


901 Caroline Street
Located within the Historic Key West Bight, within the Sails to Rails Museum at Flagler Station.

Get directions