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A Day Out at the Museums

Our local museums have so much to offer. Find out what they have in store for 2015.

Navy SEAL Museum

This museum is dedicated to one of the most elite branches of the United States armed forces. The Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce honors those who have served, while educating the public on what it means to be a SEAL. Located near the beach where the men trained during the 1940s, the museum houses machinery, equipment and artifacts associated with the Navy Seals and Naval Special Warfare.

The exhibits begin with World War I and continue to present day. Visitors can view the Maersk Alabama lifeboat where Captain Richard Phillips was held hostage by Somali pirates in 2008, and a model replica of Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The newest addition is a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Additional military vehicles are displayed outside. A memorial commemorates those killed in action, dedicated exclusively to Navy SEALs fallen in the line of duty. Additional information can be found at navysealmuseum.com.

Elliott Museum

Named after inventor Sterling Elliott, the Elliott Museum celebrates innovation while preserving bygone eras. The museum itself was renovated and reopened in March 2013. Its modern design gives nod to the natural materials of the nearby Stuart beaches. The new building includes several gallery spaces, an art studio, a cafe and plenty of windows for letting in the soft, natural north light.

The permanent collection includes nostalgia from Martin County and the Treasure Coast. An exhibit on Hugh Willoughby presents his hydro-aeroplane of 1910, a cutting edge achievement of the time. Outboard motors by Ole and Ralph Evinrude demonstrate their impact on the area’s maritime history. And they have an extensive collection of signed baseball memorabilia, including more than 250 baseballs, representing names such as Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson. Many of Sterling Elliott’s own inventions are also on display.

The most technologically advanced arrangement involves the automobile collection. The “Wheels of Change” exhibit allows visitors to select one of 55 vehicles and have them displayed on a turntable by a robotic car-racking system. The Elliott Museum is the only museum in the United States to have such a system.

The museum hosts a variety of rotating exhibits in addition to its permanent collection. The “Genome: The Secret of How Life Works” exhibit ends on Jan. 25, completing its four-month stay during a national tour. On Feb. 7 a new exhibit opens – “The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design” explores the concept of the chair as both a functional item and as a form of art. Additional information can be found at elliottmuseumfl.org.

Stuart Heritage Museum

Occupying the old Stuart Feed Store, the Stuart Heritage Museum takes visitors on a visual trip down memory lane. The building faces the St. Lucie River in the historic downtown, and houses a variety of objects from the city’s past. Local history is the focus – from Seminole artifacts to pioneer Americana items to school yearbooks. Displays include memorabilia from Stuart’s most famous, and infamous, inhabitants. Actress Francis Langford and the notorious John Ashley and his gang are represented in this group.

The permanent collection remains consistent throughout the year, though the museum does host a series of events throughout the year. Every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon it hosts the “Old-Timers Social” for longtime residents to meet and chat. And once a month, a guest speaker gives a lecture on a chosen topic. Additional information can be found at stuartheritagemuseum.com.

Vero Beach Museum of Art

It’s the place to go for the cultural arts on the Treasure Coast. The Vero Beach Museum of Art brings creativity to the community in a variety of ways. Located next to the Riverside Park on the Intracoastal Waterway, the museum encompasses art exhibitions, a sculpture garden, performances and educational programs.

The 20,000-square-foot Exhibitions and Galleries wing houses collections of paintings, sculptures, works on paper, glassworks and videos. A covered atrium allows natural light to flood the interior, highlighting the neoclassical architecture of the building. The Alice and Jim Beckwith Sculpture Park provides a pleasant green space to enjoy works of art.

The museum also offers a variety of educational programs. The popular international lecture series brings notables such as award-winning documentary filmmaker Rick Beyer and Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the eighth Countess of Carnarvon and author. The distinguished professor series invites guest speakers from prominent colleges and universities. Other programs include an opera series, chamber music concerts, film studies and events for youth. The Museum Art School also offers classes for aspiring artists.

The 2015 year brings multiple exhibits to complement the permanent collection. In January, the “Carol Brown Goldberg: Recent Works” and “Kinetic Sculpture: the Poetics of Movement” exhibits will be replaced. In their stead “Howard Ben Tré: New Sculpture” and “Environmental Photography” will open Jan. 24 running until May. In February, the “Restoring the Spirit: Celebrating Haitian Art” exhibit will change to the “Embracing Space and Color: Wall and Ceiling Mounted Sculpture” display. And look forward to “Nathan Sawaya: Art of the Brick” coming Sept. 26. Additional information can be found at verobeachmuseum.org.