Permanent Exhibits

The Lake Wales Museum permanent historical exhibits are all self-guided, and display artifacts, images and documents about the the natural history of the Lake Wales Ridge beginning with Florida’s native people to the development of Lake Wales’ railroad, industry and residents of the 20 century. Guests may visit our newly restored 1926 Seaboard Air Line Railroad caboose, the 1916 Pullman passenger car and 1944 US Army locomotive engine. Three additional historic buildings are included on the property – a 1920 office bungalow originally the site of the Lake Wales Women’s Club, first library and later the chamber of commerce; the original 1919 frame vernacular Seaboard Airline Railroad Station; and, an early 20 century craftsman style bungalow house.

Changing Exhibits

September 18 – November 24, 2018

Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard

The suburban backyard is an American original—an invention so familiar it hardly seems invented at all. This exciting traveling exhibit explores the mid-century backyard from the rise of the suburbs and tract houses, to the beauty of postwar garden design, and the birth of the environmental movement. Filled with vintage photographs, historic drawings, and fun period advertisements, the exhibition reveals how these spaces became such an integral part of American popular culture. Presented by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Smithsonian Gardens’ Archive of American Gardens. Free to the public.

December 4, 2018 – February 16, 2019

Mountain Lake: A Look Inside Building a Legacy

The Lake Wales Museum presents a historical exhibit about the story of Mountain Lake Estates, one of the oldest private golf and estate communities in the country, located in Lake Wales, Florida. This exhibit will feature stories, photographs, original illustrations, maps, and memorabilia about how the community of Mountain Lake has greatly contributed to the historic preservation, economic development and social causes of the small town of Lake Wales, Florida. Highlights will include displays of more than a century of Mediterranean-style architectural designs, the development of the citrus industry, and building the first hospital. Free to the public.

February 20 – March 20, 2019

“Freedom Riders” by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

This exhibition was created in partnership with WGBH Boston / The American Experience, which developed a major television special of the same name to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this seminal moment in civil rights history. The self-proclaimed "Freedom Riders" challenged the habits of a racially segregated society by performing a disarmingly simple act—traveling together in small interracial groups, and sitting where they pleased on buses and trains. Demanding unrestricted access to terminal restaurants and waiting rooms, they were met with bitter racism, mob violence, and imprisonment along the way. But their courage and sacrifice over eight months in 1961 changed America forever.

March 26 – May 31, 2019

“Postcards and Perceptions: Florida Seminoles and Tourism” by The Ah-Ta-Thi-Ki Museum

Postcards serve as guideposts to the changes of early 20th century Florida history. Their simple, yet evocative imagery reveals the adaptive nature of the Seminole people. They reveal the complex pressures and adjustments Seminoles endured to assert their identity.

June 8 – August 24, 2019

“Building an Icon: Building Bok Tower Singing Carillon” by Bok Tower Gardens     

Creating an Icon features information about the ways that people worked on the Singing Tower from Edward Bok’s initial vision to its design and construction. Photographs, infographics, bios, and details from the builder’s journals tell the story of the Tower, from the foundation to its crowning herons.

September 3 – October 12, 2019

“Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964” by The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service

This exhibit explores the little-known story of the Bracero Program, the largest guest worker program in U.S. history. Between 1942 and 1964, millions of Mexican men came to the U.S. on short-term labor contracts.