Explore how the current of time has shaped the face of Florida and its almost forgotten past. The history of the fishing industry has made Florida what it is today. We share these meaningful stories through the lens of the Cortez Commercial Fishing Village. This lens offers a fresh perspective on the time periods of Florida's maritime past.
Cortez Villagers have survived hurricanes, economic depressions and threats to their livelihood from a reduction in fishing grounds and regulations on the fishing industry. The residents of this community are passionate about sharing the significance of Cortez Village and the broader maritime history of Florida.
Nestled within the fishing village of Cortez, the museum offers a snapshot of old Florida. We dedicate ourselves to this history by collecting, preserving and sharing traditional knowledge, cultural artifacts and personal stories specific to Florida's fishing and maritime heritage.
Our main building, the 1912 Cortez Rural Graded Schoolhouse, houses exhibits. Boat models, tools, and other fishing equipment tell a story of Florida's rich maritime history. The remaining grounds offer views of native species as well as four other structures that all add to our story.
The museum provides fun educational programs for all audiences, and our folk school offers many hands-on classes to learn and preserve classic skills. And, a small library offers a variety of books and archival material for research on maritime subjects with special emphases on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The Florida Maritime Museum is a part of the Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller's Historical Resources Department. Additional support is provided by the Manatee County Board of County Commission and the Friends of the Florida Maritime Museum. The museum is situated on almost four acres of land in the historic fishing village of Cortez. This land is a Florida Communities Trust Property, known as the Cortez Nature Preserve.