Kenneth E. Stoddard Shell Museum – Boothbay, Maine - Atlas Obscura

Kenneth E. Stoddard Shell Museum

A son's promise to his dying father in the form of a covered bridge filled with thousands of seashells. 


It’ll be here as long as I am, anyway.” Lee Stoddard

Small museums are often intimately tied to their creators. Individuals who felt compelled not only to collect, but to begin displaying their collection for others to enjoy, be it Pez, jugs, or umbrella covers. Compelled, even obsessed, these self-made museum makers take it upon themselves to create a distinctive and unusual experience for those willing to spend a few minutes with their creations. For the visitor, to spend time with the collection is, in some small way, to see into the museum maker’s soul. Every collection is also a story.

Such is the case with the Kenneth E. Stoddard Shell Museum. A navy man in WWII, Kenneth E. Stoddard traveled through the South Pacific, collecting shells as he went. Whenever he was able to get leave, Stoddard would make a trip to the local beach, to collect shells to send home every few weeks.

Like many collections, the shells were ultimately consigned to the attic where they sat for many years. When Stoddard was diagnosed with cancer more than twenty years ago, his son Lee Stoddard made a promise to create a museum for the shells named after his father. Lee not only honored that promise, but has continued to grow the collection his father left behind. Installed in a covered bridge on the Dolphin Mini Golf grounds in Boothbay, Maine, the collection has grown into one of the world’s largest private collections of shells. 

Housed in glass and wood cases in this small covered bridge are thousands of shells, lobster claws, sand dollars and other treasures offered up by the sea. On display along with the polished pearls and emerald shells is the love and devotion of a son.

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July 19, 2016

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