A Museum celebrating Thomas Edison’s life, work and interests was a dream of Mina Edison even before she donated the Edison Estate to the City of Fort Myers on February 19, 1947. In fact, she had created the museum plan to include inventions, exhibits of science, and natural history, and a library for their interests in science and the arts.
By early 1960, this plan began to take shape with the creation of the first main room of The Edison Museum. It was built directly behind Thomas Edison’s workshop and garage (today this is the Museum Store). Today, this area is dedicated to inventions of both Edison and Ford and exhibits related to their work and the site.
By 1970, the second addition to the Museum was built as the collection of both original artifacts and inventions was supplemented with other related objects. Today, this area houses the Into the Wild (camping) exhibit, an exhibit from the Smithsonian, the children’s exhibit room, the Family & Friends exhibit, and the Music & Movies gallery.
By 1985, more space was needed and so the final large wing was added. Today, this houses the gallery for special exhibits, a film and lecture hall, and the exhibit dedicated to the rubber research.
When the non-profit organization, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, assumed responsibility for the site in 2006, the Museum was in the schedule for development and growth. After all of the restoration of the historic buildings and gardens was completed, that $14 million overall project culminated with the restoration of the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory in 2010. All 12 historic buildings have been restored as well as the gardens. So now our focus will be to bring the Edison Ford Museum up to the same level of excellence but use contemporary materials.
With the help from donors like Sally Johnson, GE, and others, the Museum work has been started. This summer, the initial area of the original museum will receive updated exhibits and new rubber flooring. Similar to the flooring already in use in the rubber exhibit, it ties in perfectly to the rubber research conducted on the site by Edison, Ford and Firestone. Work will be phased so that the Museum can remain open and continue throughout the summer months.
Please refer to the graphics and diagrams on this page, but better yet, come back throughout the summer months to check on our progress.