Chapter 2


We are privileged to have you as a volunteer and docent at the Historical Museum and Village; we hope you feel the same way. As volunteers you help us fulfill our mission to preserve, share and celebrate Sanibel’s heritage. Approximately 10,000 people visit the museum each year. That makes you an ambassador for Sanibel!

There are several “jobs” a docent can fulfill: Backing up Assistant Manager Abbey Allison in Shore Haven, where visitors enter and are greeted. Other positions include Rutland House, the museum store, and tour guide, to name a few. There are also opportunities working with displays, fundraising, decorations, special events, office help, and archiving.

In Shore Haven, Abbey greets visitors, asks them to sign the Guest Book, and pay admission. Admission is $10 for adults (over 18), and children and members are free. Some people will present a library pass; they also are free. Each person is given a gold sticker to wear and a rack card. We have credit card machines for the convenience of our guests. They are easy to use, and we will make sure you are trained and comfortable using the machine.

Please be mindful that not all people want a lot of information. Some would rather tour the village on their own, stopping to look at things that are particularly interesting to them. If you sense this, then leave those people alone. However, it is a good idea to walk through the rooms and be available to answer any questions visitors might have and to supervise. While it hasn’t happened often, theft and vandalism are possible.

Visitors are allowed to handle a few of the objects on display – play the piano, investigate the kitchen tools, play the games in the Schoolhouse, ring the bells, pull weeds or pick fruit in the garden. Use your own judgment on this. Taking photographs without a flash is permitted, unless donors of items for our quilt or special exhibits have asked that no photos be taken. Flash photography is always prohibited.

Talk to the guests; have fun. Keep this in mind, though, when talking with guests: the human attention span is about 5 minutes, probably less. And you need to capture listeners’ attention within 8 seconds. You may learn some interesting things from our visitors. Most of them are on vacation and are in a great mood. This “vacation” ambience makes being a village volunteer a most pleasant experience, and sharing Sanibel history is a most rewarding activity.

The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is set up to demonstrate Sanibel’s pioneer heritage from the 1880s through the 1940s. After the 1950s, a new era evolved on Sanibel: Mosquito Control (in the late 1950s), the building of the causeway (1963), the establishment of a city water system (1964), and the fight for incorporation that resulted in the creation of the city of Sanibel in 1974.

We certainly expect our volunteers will want to be members of the museum. Members get a 20 percent discount at the museum store as well as free admission at various levels of membership.