As the curator of collections at the Marco Island Historical Society, Austin Bell’s exhibitions have consistently been recognized for excellence by both the Florida Association of Museums and the Southeastern Museums Confer­ence. But working in a museum wasn’t always in his plans.

“After I was laid off from my job as an archaeologist due to the 2008 economic downturn, Dr. Karen Walker suggested I pursue a career in museum studies,” he says. “In 2019, I oversaw the return home of Marco Island’s world-famous Key Marco Cat, an archaeological arti­fact on loan from the Smithsonian Institution.”

In addition to his exhibition honors, Bell received an appointment as a consulting scholar to the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadel­phia. He serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Collier County Historic Preservation Board.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Pursue a career in museum studies.