From spears and pioneers to hurricanes and famous names, you will love exploring the past at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum!  Our curatorial team strives to create the finest exhibitions, featuring interactive displays, vivid imagery, and stories of Palm Beach past and present.


Special Exhibitions

Shipwreck: Discovering Lost Treasures

Since its identification by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513, the Gulf Stream current has been utilized by ships as a nautical highway. The current’s proximity to the Florida coast, the often-volatile Atlantic Ocean, and frequent hurricanes all contributed to an abundance of shipping disasters. Through the lens of several wrecks in Palm Beach County between 1660 and 1984, Shipwreck will explore the impact of these nautical disasters on people and places during various historic periods.

Broken vessels held not only gold and jewels, but other treasures—items prized by early pioneers. Decaying hulls later evolved into recreational destinations. Today, abandoned ships repurposed as artificial reefs have become treasure not only for residents and visitors, but also for the marine ecosystem.

Dive into compelling stories and traditional riches of shipwrecks while redefining your meaning of “treasure” at the Johnson History Museum




Courtroom Exhibitions

In the Historic Courtroom Gallery:

November 4, 2017 – January 31, 2018: Visions of Florida: Clyde Butcher
Discover an undisturbed paradise that is rapidly disappearing. Through the eyes of one of America’s finest landscape photographers, journey into the realm of natural Florida—a world seldom seen either by tourists or longtime residents.

This exhibition is on loan from the Museum of Florida History and is generously underwritten by Wilmington Trust.



February 5 – March 31, 2018: Centennial Faces
Photographs by Alvan S. Harper on the lives of middle class African-American citizens in Tallahassee one hundred years ago. Elaborately beaded dresses, flowered hats, and finely tailored waistcoats reflect the subjects’ prosperity. Their faces express dignity and self-reliance.


April 6 – May 25, 2018: Picturing Nam
Features images of the Vietnam War taken by military photographers that give an intimate and ground up view of the war and those who fought it. Presented in part by the Lawrence F. O’Brien Family, Pritzker Military Museum & Library, AARP, and the National Archives Foundation.


June 4- July 28, 2018: Beaches, Creatures and Cowboys: Florida Movie Posters
This exhibit presents a selection of colorful, eye-catching posters that advertised films. Movie producers have been making films in Florida almost since the dawn of the industry. For a short time in the early twentieth century, Florida even rivaled California as a place for moviemaking. The posters and lobby cards in this exhibit depict some of Florida’s most famous films from the early 1920s to the present.


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