Tennessee Williams Museum – Key West, Florida - Atlas Obscura
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Key West, Florida

Tennessee Williams Museum

This small Key West museum is packed with dozens of artifacts that illustrate the life of the iconic playwright. 

Visiting the Ernest Hemingway House and its dozens of sometimes-six-toed felines is something almost every visitor to this Florida outpost does; however, barely a block away is a museum dedicated to another literary legend. 

Upon entering this museum, you’re welcomed by a near life-size cut out of the smiling playwright Tennessee Williams. Inside, the walls are lined with posters from the many movies created from his plays.

The museum was the brainchild of local businessman and community activist Dennis Beaver. To honor Williams’s 100th birthday in 2011, an event was held to celebrate the writer that included a poetry and art contest. After seeing the enthusiasm surrounding the event, Beaver decided to establish an exhibit of Williams memorabilia he had been collecting inside a community center. The exhibit was later expanded to hold all the artifacts and opened as a museum in 2013.

Inside the museum, cartoons, souvenirs, and photos of Williams’s family, his long-term lover Frank Merlo, and the many celebrities that were his contemporaries are on display. Dozens of foreign translations of his work can also be found around the museum, as well as the playwright’s typewriter and wicker chair. One of the more surprising exhibits examines his death, with a copy of the coroner’s report and newspaper rumors of murder.

This small museum is run by volunteers from the Key West Art & Historical Society and is just a snapshot of the famous playwright’s life. The building is not the actual house Williams lived in for over 40 years, although that private house still exists a short distance away. 

Know Before You Go

The museum is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except Christmas). An adult ticket costs $7, children enter for free. 

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