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Mel Fisher Maritime Museum: Home of the World

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is a treasure trove for those who love all things nautical. Located on Key West's Stock Island, this museum is home to many artifacts from the Spanish Armada and other treasures from around the world. This attraction has been visited by some of America's most famous presidents and celebrities, including John F Kennedy and Ernest Hemingway.

From ancient Egypt to 18th century Russia, there are many diverse pieces here for you to enjoy. Keep reading to find out more about this incredible treasure trove.

About Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is a museum and treasure trove of artifacts from the 1600s Spanish fleet. The museum, which opened in 1985, is located in Key West, Florida, and has become an international tourist destination. This museum has been an important part of historic preservation and education since it opened its doors in 1982. The museum's namesake comes from a treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, who spent most of his life diving for these treasures. In the 1980s, he finally found his first shipwreck, which contained over 100 tons of gold and silver.

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum has a variety of exhibits, including ship models and displays on diving equipment used during salvage operations. This institution focuses on the undersea exploration of sunken ships, artifacts, gold, and silver from Spanish galleons off the coast of Key West, Florida. The museum features artifacts such as cannons, anchors, and jewelry that marine explorer Mel Fisher salvaged during his career (1956-the 1980s).

This museum and treasure trove is the first and only museum of its kind in the world. It's also one of Florida's most popular attractions, drawing over 200,000 visitors every year. If you're interested in history, art, or just looking for a fun activity with your family on vacation, then this is where you need to go.

The popular Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in downtown Key West

About the Museum’s Namesake, Mel Fisher

Born in 1922 in Indiana, Mel Fisher began his treasure hunting journey when he was young. When he was eleven years old, he used a bicycle pump, a hose, and a bucket to make his first diving helmet. In 1953 Fisher met his wife, Dolores, who set an underwater endurance record of 55 hours. The Fishers started diving to discover shipwrecks in the 1960s after meeting a popular treasure hunter known as Kip Wagner, who asked them to help recover artifacts from a sunken 1700s Spanish ship.

After years of treasure hunting, Fisher and his team discovered over 1,000 silver and gold coins. In 1969, Fisher moved his family to the Florida Keys in an attempt to find the Nuestra Senora de Atocha after reading about it from a particular diver’s guidebook. Over the next decade, the Fishers kept diving and discovering various items from wrecks around Florida and across the US.

In 1985 they recovered “the ship’s mother lode” of tens of thousands of gold and silver coins and artifacts. This discovery made international headlines making Mel Fisher one of the most famous treasure hunters in the world. Fisher and his crew also found the Santa Margarita (2 Spanish galleon vessels sunk in the 1620s). The ships carried about 40 tons of silver and gold, Colombian emeralds, eight gold coins, over 1,000 bars of silver and golden artifacts. In 1982 Mel established the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society to preserve what he and his crew had discovered.

The Must-See Exhibits at Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

Nothing beats viewing ancient treasures and reading captivating treasure stories from fortune-laden troves like Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. So below are the two exhibits you shouldn’t miss seeing at Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.

Henrietta Marie Exhibit

The Henrietta Marie Exhibit displays the story of a slave ship of an English merchant that sunk at the coast of Key West in the 1700s shortly after delivering over 150 captives in Jamaica. The exhibit includes artifacts like gold bars and coins recovered from the shipwreck and even some pieces of coral used to identify where she sank. It also provides the history of Henrietta Marrie, the Key West African Cemetry, and the transatlantic slave trade.

1622 Fleet Exhibit

The 1622 Fleet Exhibit includes the history of Nuestra Senora de Atocha, Santa Margarita, and the treasures found from both wrecks. Some artifacts on the exhibit include:

  • Gold, silver bars, and coins
  • A solid gold necklace and belt set with gems
  • A gold chain weighing more than 7 pounds
  • A fantastic 78-carat hexagonal crystal
  • A wide range of religious and secular jewelry
  • Thousands of contraband emeralds
  • A gold plate and silverware
  • A gold chalice designed to protect its user from poisoning


Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is the world's largest treasure museum and offers something for everyone. Visitors will be amazed by the riches that are on display in this famous museum. If you're looking for an adventure in Florida, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is the place to go and enjoy a variety of interactive exhibits that will keep any age entertained.

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