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Mel Fisher Museum Key West

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

The Mel Fisher Museum, Key West, FL – Travel Thru History Show

Key West, Florida

“Maritime” is a euphemism for “sunken treasure” at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Mel was the self-proclaimed world’s greatest treasure hunter, a former Indiana chicken farmer with a dogged American determination to strike it rich — which he did, after 16 years of trying, when his son found the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha off of Key West. The Spanish treasure ship had sunk in a hurricane in 1622, along with roughly 40 tons of gold and silver, 70 pounds of priceless emeralds, and almost all of its crew.

The Poison Cup and its magical gallstones.

Fisher became an instant celebrity multimillionaire and opened his Key West museum to showcase what he called his “fantastic treasures.” Visitors gape at piles of gold and silver bars, coins, and jewelry, as well as a full-size recreation of the undersea wreck, while light classical and opera music plays softly in the background.

One highlight is a solid gold “poison cup” — a chalice that would be filled with llama gallstones that supposedly detoxified any poison slipped into a beverage, by, say, opportunistic Spaniards… or gold-crazy treasure hunters.

The Official Mel Fisher Online Treasure Store

Mel Fisher, a dreamer, a visionary, a legend and most importantly, the World’s Greatest Treasure Hunter! Mel Fisher did what many have not – he realized his dream during his lifetime. Everyday he insisted, “Today’s the Day”! His mantra continues to inspire the search for the remaining treasure from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita, the Spanish galleons that sank during a hurricane on September 6, 1622, near Key West, Florida.

It took years, cost lives, and challenged all who served as members of Mel’s loyal crew. On July 20, 1985, after more than 15 years, Mel’s dream was achieved, and the Atocha’s motherlode was located. Thousands of artifacts, silver coins, gold coins, many in near mint condition, period and earlier amazing Spanish objects and wares, exquisite jewelry set with precious stones, gold chains, a variety of armaments and even seeds was recovered.

The immensity of the Atocha’s treasure is staggering. What was only a dream instantly became an undeniable reality. You, too, can join the search for the remaining treasure by visiting our member relations department, or “Own a Piece of History” by visiting our gift shops or shopping online. As Mel Fisher would say, “Today’s the Day!” Visit our Treasure Blog for fascinating Mel Fisher treasure stories

From Tragedy To Treasure

On September 4, 1622, 28 galleon ships left Havana en route to Spain. Aboard these ships was the wealth of an empire: silver from Peru and Mexico, gold and emeralds from Colombia, pearls from Venezuela. The very next day, the fleet was overtaken by a hurricane and eight of these ships ended up on the bottom of the ocean floor, their remainders scattered from the Marquesas to the Dry Tortugas along the Florida Straits.

Fast forward about 350 years to 1969 when Mel Fisher with his Treasure Salvors crew begins a relentless hunt for the buried treasures. He was particularly captivated by the Atocha, believed to have had 24 tons of silver bullion, 180,000 pesos of silver coins, 582 copper ingots, 125 gold bars and discs, 350 chests of indigo, 525 bales of tobacco, 20 bronze cannons and 1,200 pounds of worked silverware onboard at the time the ship sank.

Using sand-clearing prop wash deflectors and specially designed proton magnetometers, Fisher and crew followed the trail of the elusive wreck for years searching for clues. With major discoveries spanning from 1973 to 1980, the Treasure Salvors continued their search until Fishers son Kane came across the motherlode of the Atochas bounty on that fateful day in 1985.

Archeologists and conservators immediately went to work identifying, excavating and preserving the buried treasure, much of which you can see today at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.

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Is It Worth Visiting The Key West Shipwreck Museum And Mel Fisher Maritime Museum In Key West

During our RV trip to Key West, I was eager to visit not one, but two museums dealing with old Spanish shipwrecks: Key West Shipwreck Museum and Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Having recently completed several books on 17th and 18th-century naval exploration, I was familiar with some of the wrecks and the daily risks these sailors faced. It was pouring down raining one morning, so it provided us a great opportunity to visit both.

Key West Shipwreck Museum

The Key West Shipwreck museum sits between Duvall Street and Malory Square on Whitehead Street in downtown Key West. You can easily spot the museum by the 65-foot wooden tower, which provides amazing panoramic views of Malory Square and most of Key West. After paying admission , youre led down a few stairs, where youre then presented with a 14-minute video on the ship wreckers and their early method of recovering these sunken ships. The atmosphere is perfect for watching the videoits dark, damp, and a strong smell of saltwater and tarred wood lingers in the air. In fact, the presentation room is located in an old cistern one foot below sea level. Curators keep two pumps running around the clock to keep water from flooding into the museum.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

Just a few blocks away from the Key West Shipwreck Museum is the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Youll know youve found the gallery when you see the giant ship anchor and 17th-century cannons just outside of the main entrance.

Other Attractions Associated With Mel Fisher

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

In addition to the museum and its exhibits, you can also visit Mel Fishers Conservation Lab. Here, youll get a firsthand look at what it takes to conserve artifacts found through underwater archaeology. The attraction is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday. Admission is $12.50 or $25 in combination with a Mel Fisher Maritime Museum visit. Mel Fishers Maritime Museum also operates the Key West Turtle Museum, where you can learn about Key Wests history through the lens of the native sea turtle. Admission is free and it operates during season, November through April.

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Mel Fisher Maritime Museum Tours And Activities

No coastal city would be complete without its own shipwreck legends, and Key West is no exception. The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum allows you to explore artifacts from some of the most famous ships that went down in the Florida Keys.

The shipwrecks are mostly from merchant and slave ships in the 17th and 18th centuries. The artifacts on board serve as a window to the past, revealing a great deal about trade, colonization, slavery, and even daily life from the time period. One of the most famous ships to run aground in the Keys, the Henrietta Marie, is believed to be the worlds largest source of tangible objects from the early years of the slave trade. A visit to the museum lets you view historical artifacts in an new way, as the shipwreck legacy casts an eerie and exciting feeling over the objects.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

No coastal city would be complete without its own shipwreck legends, and Key West is no exception. The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum allows you to explore artifacts from some of the most famous ships that went down in the Florida Keys.

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Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

Location within Florida
Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is located at 200 Greene Street, Key West, Florida. The museum contains an extensive collection of artifacts from 17th century shipwrecks, such as the Henrietta Marie, Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita. Also included are the shipwrecks and artifacts of The Santa Clara, a Conquistador-era galleon , The Guerrero & Nimble. A rotating gallery exists on the second floor of the museum and is currently displaying an exhibit or artifacts belonging to Cuban Rafters, Balseros, who arrive to Key West in hand-crafted vessels. Terrestrial archaeological sites include The African Cemetery of Key West, located on Higgs Beach. The museum is named for founder Mel Fisher and was created as a 5013 non-profit charity organization, thus Fisher’s fortune is not financially linked to the museum. It is a museum, a lab, and a nationally recognized research facility.

Within the museum is a fully operating Conservation and Archaeology lab, where guests are allowed admittance during a daily private Lab Tour and are able to touch the artifacts while learning about the various stages of artifact conservation. Some artifacts, depending on type and density, can take anywhere from weeks to years for full conservation before they are placed on display in the museum.

Own A Piece Of History

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum presents Key West African and South Beach 2014

Mel Fisher’s Treasures is the source for authentic shipwreck treasure and one-of-a-kind treasure jewelry. The immensity of the Atocha’s treasure is staggering. What was only a dream instantly became an undeniable reality. You can “Own a Piece of History” by visiting our online Treasure Store or one of our 3 retail locations. As Mel Fisher would say, “Today’s the Day!”

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Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museumvsmel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum and Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum are both rated very highly by professional reviewers writing for major publications. On balance, Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum scores slightly better than Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum. Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum ranks #5 in Key West with recommendations from 8 reviewers like Travel + Leisure, Lonely Planet and Frommer’s.

One Of The Largest Treasure Finds In History Happened In Key West And Is On Display Including Gold Silver And Emeralds

World famous treasure maritime salvor Mel Fisher uncovered the 1622 wreck of the Spanish galleon Atocha in 1985, after an exhausting search which took over 18 years and cost him the life of his son, a professional diver.

The world of shipwreck archaeology is the theme of this awesome museum where you will see the ropes of pure gold and fist-sized emeralds that were recovered. Lift a real gold bar and view a number of artifacts.

They continue to look for more treasure, and repeat Mels famous saying Todays the day.

You may never look into the ocean the same way again.

Location: 200 Greene St.

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Key West Shipwreck Treasures Museum

Feel the exhilaration as you climb 65 feet in the air to the top of the observation tower for panoramic views of Key West. Inside the Key West Shipwreck Museum, youll have that opportunity and more. Find out how those who made their living off shipwrecks in the 1850s watched and waited for ships sinking off the coast in Key West. Discover the true dangers of the era of shipwrecking and how it made Key West the wealthiest city per capita in the United States. Through actor presentations, exhibits, laser shows and collections of artifacts and treasures from actual shipwrecks, visitors can venture back for a glimpse into the history of the shipwrecking industry.

Its an ideal voyage for adults and children.

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