By John Christopher Fine
History of Diving Museum’s extraordinary collection of antique diving helmets, equipment and ocean discovery exhibits make for an educational and entertaining visit. Added to the experience is an ongoing exhibit containing a collection of movie memorabilia, famous books and television shows featuring diving, for visitors to check out.
Museum founders Joe and Sally Bauer created a concept to use the facilities and collections to teach and inspire young and old about ocean exploration and discovery. Having set the compass course, HDM’s curators, program specialists and docents create new exhibits from the museum’s collections, as well as from on-loan artifacts, that give visitors a new experience every time.
The current featured exhibit, with the theme “Diving In Pop Culture” includes movie memorabilia, themes from famous books, television programs that featured diving, music, games and ocean collectibles. There is a permanent display of the giant squid as visitors pass into the museum’s Jules Verne section where the submarine “Nautilus” descends beneath the waves. Drawing upon that theme, the new exhibit expands on the legendary voyage ’Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.’
Those that remember actor Lloyd Bridges’ television series “Sea Hunt” will be able to reminisce as the story is told with dive equipment movie stars used in productions. Posters from feature films bring back memories of the French movie “Le Grand Bleu” “The Abyss” and other box office hits. There is even an original “Popeye the Sailorman” film in its well preserved box.
Over time, commercial ventures have used divers and diving to sell products. Ads popularized scuba diving and pivoted on the beauty and adventure beneath the waves to sell viewers their wares. Many aspects of diving in promotions are on display.
Innovation in diving created by great pioneers brought a recreational activity that has drawn millions to explore the undersea. Pioneers in underwater photography made it possible to make motion pictures using well known celebrities. Underwater photography enhanced magazine layouts and brought undersea discovery into the homes of people that never put on masks and fins to witness the world beneath the waves.
“Diving In Pop Culture” will run until Dec. 31. The History of Diving Museum is located at MM 83 in Islamorada.
For more information go to www.divingmuseum.org or call 305-664-9737.