Florida is known for having some of the best dive sites in America. The Florida Keys are certainly no exception, which makes Islamorada the perfect place for the History of Diving Museum– the only museum of its kind. On display, visitors can see vintage U.S. Navy equipment, over 75 dive helmets from around the world and 4,000 years of dive history in its 13-galleries. As you walk through the camera-friendly, hands-on, interactive History of Diving Museum, you will learn how diving contributed to marine science, underwater photography and finding treasure in the ocean. The Museum houses the “world’s largest international collection of diving helmets and artifacts” that date from around the 16th century and expands to include today’s modern scuba gear.
Even if you don’t dive, the History of Diving Museum is interesting, entertaining and informational!
Our visit began with a short video, which explained man’s obsession with the ocean. After the video, we entered the museum and took a self-guided tour at our own pace through diving history. We began with early divers in ancient Egypt and made our way through to modern scuba diving and rebreathers. The museum’s exhibits are well done with easy to read narrations that kids will enjoy, too.
If you know Netalia, you know she loves touching things in museums. Unlike other museums, this one actually encourages it! You can freely touch most of the helmets, dive suits and even pick-up an 74-LB (1,079 troy ounces) silver bar which Mel Fisher recovered from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha wreck. (The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West goes into more detail about Fisher’s findings on the Atocha.)
Love old-school sci-fi? Then you’ll love the suits toward the last gallery. Iron Duke and Diving Armor are dive suits from the 1930s that allowed divers to reach depths of 450 feet to collect sunken treasures. These suits look like Robby the Robot!
Human beings have been diving for longer than you may think. The progression of diving throughout history is incredible, and it really makes one appreciate the advancements in gear throughout the years. The earliest divers were subject to dangerous and uncomfortable conditions, and expeditions were extremely limited. In the last 200 years, developments in technology have allowed divers to dive safer, dive more comfortably, and has made diving accessible to the average person. If you think your gear set-up feels bulky, you’ll definitely think differently after seeing a Mark V helmet.
Netalia and I spent an hour and a half in the museum, but could have easily spent longer.
The History of Diving Museum is perfect for museumgoers, diver families and children.