two movie posters
Florida Movie Posters such as “Beneath the 12 Mile Reef” and “Edward Scissorhands” will be featured in an upcoming temporary exhibit at the Key West Museum of Art & History’s ‘Beaches, Creatures & Cowboys.’ The exhibit opens on May 31, 2024, from 5 to 7 p.m. with a free reception for the public. MUSEUM OF FLORIDA HISTORY/Contributed

The Key West Museum of Art & History at the Custom House will celebrate the opening of its newest temporary exhibit, “Beaches, Creatures & Cowboys: Florida Movie Posters” on Friday, May 31. The exhibit was developed by the Museum of Florida History and many of the posters and ephemera are part of its permanent collection. An opening reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Bryan Gallery and is open to the public.

In the early days of movie-making, Florida sunshine lit the sets for many movies, while the palm trees and beaches provided a stunning backdrop. Movie producers have been making films in Florida almost since the dawn of the industry. For a short time in the early 20th century, Florida even rivaled California as a place for movie-making. However, a lack of government support, money and studio facilities hurt the industry here, and movie companies soon began leaving.

“Despite many Florida studios relocating to the country’s West Coast, many filmmakers still made use of Florida’s landscape, cities and tourist attractions during filming,” said Cori Convertito, curator for the Key West Art & Historical Society. “Tarzan swung through the Florida jungles, swimming-champ-turned-actress Esther Williams frolicked on the beaches and the Creature from the Black Lagoon lurked in the state’s dark and mysterious springs.”

Colorful, eye-catching posters advertised films and drew people to the movies. Often, several movie posters, each with a different image, promoted one film. The movie’s marketers designed each image to appeal to a specific audience. Depending on the film, a poster might display a dramatic, heroic, romantic or funny scene.

The 40 classic posters that form part of the display include artwork for “Beneath the 12 Mile Reef,” “Cocoon,” “Flipper,” and “Operation Petticoat” and feature such actors as Gregory Peck, Betty Grable, Spencer Tracy, Jessica Tandy, Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Steve Martin, Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and Jim Carrey.

“Beaches, Creatures & Cowboys” runs through Sept. 1.More information is available at, or from Convertito at 305-295-6616 x 507 or