Keys History & Discovery Center Presents… 2023 Lecture Series..

Attend in person or participate virtually! 
Presentations begin at 6PM!

Register Here for our next lecture “Growing up in the Keys”: https://buytickets.at/floridakeyshistorydiscoverycenter/1039124

Advance online registration is required whether attending in person or participating virtually.

Doors to the Discovery Center open at 5:00PM to allow guests to view exhibits before the presentation. Light appetizers and cash bar available.

Free for members.  When registering, click link at the top of the page: “Do you have an access code?”  Enter case sensitive access code provided to members on program emails and mailers to receive your free access member tickets.  You can become a member and save on our Lecture Series at www.keysdiscovery.com/membership

If you have any questions or issues, be sure to email Grace at grace@keysdiscovery.com, she would love to assist!

Non-members: In person, $10; Virtual only, $5.  

With seating limited, seats are allocated first-come, first-serve through registration deadline of Monday before lecture at 5:00 pm. If capacity is reached you will be able to join a waitlist. 

Registration for virtual participants can be made until noon the day of  the lecture. Virtual attendees will receive a confirmation email and a link to join the webinar by 2 pm. With a virtual ticket, those who register but do not attend live will receive a link to view the recorded lecture after it concludes.

If you are having any technical issues, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Tara, via email (Tara@keysdiscovery.com) or by calling the museum at (305) 922-2237 and asking for her!

Also, remember as members, you have access to the member portal that will have recordings posted in the Member Exclusive Content tab on our website.


December 13th, 2023: Wild Florida: An Animal Odyssey: Lecture: Kirsten Hines

Join us for a wild exploration with Writer, Photographer & Conservationist Kirsten Hines: Registration info coming soon!


Florida is widely known for its alligators, panthers, pythons, and pesky mosquitoes, but did you know it also has crocodiles, bears, scarlet-striped snakes, and more species of fireflies than any other state? How about a tiny lizard that swims through central Florida’s ancient sand dunes, a red widow spider that hides in palmettos, or that wild flamingos, common two centuries ago, are reappearing? Join author, wildlife photographer, and conservationist Kirsten Hinesfor a visual and descriptive journey from the temperate Panhandle through the state’s myriad habitats all the way to the tropical islands of Dry Tortugas National Park, deep into Florida’s wilds to explore its impressive array of animals as captured in her latest book Wild Florida: An Animal Odyssey











December 4th, 2023: Lunch and Learn

More info coming soon!



November 8, 2023: Clear Havanas: Key West’s Cigar Industry

Join us to explore Key West’s Cigar Industry with Dr. Cori Convertito:

Registration link coming soon!!


Dr Cori Convertito is Curator & Historian for the Key West Art & Historical Society in Key West, Florida, a position she has held since 2012. She is also the Executive Director for the Society for the History of Navy Medicine, an international non-profit. Additionally, she proudly sits on the City of Key West’s Art in Public Places advisory board, the Anne McKee Artist Fund board, and is a member of Navy League Key West Council.

During her tenure, she has researched and installed over 50 exhibitions at the Key West Museum of Art & History on both art and history topics. Additionally, she hosts a monthly talk entitled ‘Happy Hour with the Historian’ which looks at various aspects of Florida Keys history and culture.

She holds a Ph.D. in British Naval History from the University of Exeter, U.K., her thesis entitled ‘The Health of British Seamen in the West Indies, 1770-1806’, for which she was awarded the Boydell & Brewer Prize for the best doctoral thesis in maritime history, 2011-12.

The early 19th century witnessed the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, a time of dramatic economic change when small cottage industries were replaced with large-scale factory production. On the heels of the Industrial Revolution, Cuba’s cigar making industry blossomed. Small tobacco farms were consolidated into large plantations for more efficient tobacco production, while displaced tobacco farmers found gainful employment as skilled cigar making artisans.


With Cuba’s cigar economy booming, people sought opportunities outside the country looking to make financial gains. Key West’s neighboring proximity to Cuba and its tobacco plantations, a mere 90 miles away, was the ideal place to establish cigar making factories. Samuel Seidenberg, a German immigrant, saw an opportunity to establish the first ‘clear Cuban’ cigar factory in Key West in 1867. By using Cuban laborers to roll Cuban grown tobacco, Seidenberg pioneered the idea of making authentic Cuban cigars in America. Within a few years, Cuban immigrants arrived by the thousands to seek employment in Key West’s burgeoning cigar industry.

Aside from the warm, humid climate, which was ideal for maintaining a pliable tobacco leaf, a necessity for excellent cigar making, Seidenberg was able to lure immigrants with affordable housing, a neighborhood environment and gainful employment in the cigar trade. Before long, other cigar making factories opened in order to capitalize on the talents of cigar artisans. Enterprising manufacturers either moved their entire production to Key West or opened branch factories. By 1873, there were a total of 15 factories in Key West which employed over 1,200 workers.

By 1876, Key West’s 29 cigar factories were producing a staggering 62 million cigars annually. With a population of more than 18,000 people in 1890, Key West became the largest and wealthiest city in the state of Florida and one of the most influential in the nation. That year, more than 100 million cigars were handmade in Key West.

Despite the financial success of the cigar industry on the island, the inescapable progression to the unionization of workers and opposition from factory owners eventually drove many of the largest cigar makers to Tampa. The industry began manufacturing machine-made cigars that could be sold for a nickel, then the Great Depression hit in the 1930s. The expensive Cuban cigar simply could not compete. The heyday of the island’s cigar making was over, although the legacy and cultural impact of the cigar industry and its workers remains a vibrant part of modern Key West.


October 25, 2023, Growing Up in The Keys…. continued…. 

Register Now! https://buytickets.at/floridakeyshistorydiscoverycenter/1039124

Born in 1950 in Miami, Florida, Jim Mooney’s journey is one characterized by unwavering dedication to community, sports, and public service.

Raised in the picturesque surroundings of Islamorada, Florida, after graduating from Coral Shores in 1968, he pursued higher education at the University of Miami, earning a Bachelor of Education degree in 1973. Jim’s commitment to education and youth development led him to teach physical education at Coral Shores from 1973 to 1979. He also took on the role of a coach in baseball and football, imparting his knowledge and passion for sports to the next generation.

Jim’s journey through life also saw him embrace the joys of parenthood. He and his wife proudly raised their children, Erica Mooney DeMott and Michael Mooney.

In 1998, Jim Mooney’s dedication to his community found a new dimension when he was elected to the Islamorada Village Council, where he not only chaired the first meeting but also went on to serve as Mayor in 2001. This role allowed him to make a significant impact on his beloved community.

In 2014, he was once again elected to the Islamorada Village Council, where he served until 2020, and he was re-elected as Mayor in 2017, demonstrating the trust and admiration of his constituents. Jim was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2020, a role he continues to hold in 2022-2024. His impressive commitment is also reflected in his active participation in various committees.

In 2023, he was assigned to the Appropriations Committee, served as the Republican Committee Whip, and held positions on the State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, Infrastructure Strategies Committee, Agriculture, Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee, Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency & Recovery, and State Affairs Committee.

Throughout his life, Jim has dedicated his time and energy to various boards and organizations, including Take Stock in Children Monroe County, Fl Keys Electric Co-Op, Islamorada Chamber of Commerce, Conch Scramble Golf Tournament, FL Keys Board of Realtors, FL Keys MLS, Chair of the Grievance Board, Upper Keys Foundation, and President of the Women’s Council of Realtors. His extensive involvement reflects his deep-rooted commitment to community betterment and his eagerness to give back.


Tony Hammon is a life-time educator. He has been a classroom teacher, coach, and school administrator for five decades. He started his career at Coral Shores High School as a Marine Biology/Biology teacher and founded Island Christian School in 1974. He is also Pastor Emeritus of Island Community Church, where he served as Sr. Pastor from 1989 to 2019.

Tony moved to Islamorada in 1960 immediately following Hurricane Donna. Tony is a Coral Shores High School graduate of the class of 1967,  holds a Bachelors from University of Miami in Biology Education and a Masters in Educational Administration from Tennessee Temple University.  He has authored three books and travels regularly to third world countries to provide educational training and coaching.

He currently serves as President of the International Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (IACCS) the international division of the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (FACCS) where he has served as board member for many years.  IACCS reaches deep into the heart of third world and developing countries, providing free educational training to teachers and administrators.  In addition, IACCS has built educational buildings, installed water systems, supplied over 100 milk cows, assisted in establishing demonstration farms orphanages. 

Tony has been married to his wife Colleen, his high school sweetheart, for 51 years, has four children and 11 grandchildren.

Tony and Jim Mooney have been life-long friends, played several sports together, were college roommates in Key West while attending FKCC, and Jim was a groomsman in Tony and Colleen’s wedding.