Do you have a favorite spot to take holiday visitors to show oﬀ Santa Barbara? Many people consider showing off Santa Barbara to be an art form. We have our favorites and old standbys. Many of us like to take visitors to the pier, the courthouse with its viewing platform, the Mission, the Arlington, Shoreline Park, and the Sunday art show at the beach. I want to add a special spot to those good choices — the Maritime Museum at the entrance to the Harbor, which features a treasure trove of fascinating exhibits.
If you have not visited there yet, let me help make your acquaintance with this lively and interesting venue. The ocean, the shore, the beach, and the islands—this museum covers all aspects of living with the Paciﬁc Ocean at our doorstep. Since learning to SCUBA dive in Santa Barbara 33 years ago, I have always had a soft spot for the underwater world and there is a fascinating history of commercial diving and ﬁshing along with historical equipment on display. The videos of storms at sea are excellent if a bit hair-raising.
How to pilot a boat is an interesting exhibit, perfect for the inexperienced or young boater. In fact, a large number of exhibits will interest the younger set including the big lens from the Point Conception light house and a Children’s Gallery with dress-up and activities. There are age ppropriate ﬁlms and exhibitions. More than 1,200 students from local schools visit each year. There are wonderfully detailed videos of sea mammals—harbor and elephant seals—which are heart-warming for all ages.
The “Historic Path” explores maritime history as well as Channel Islands History. Well covered are the 1969 Oil Spill (the third largest after the Deepwater Horizon and the Exxon Valdez), the history of surﬁ ng, the Mesa lighthouse, the Honda tragedy, and more.
The rotating art gallery features the marine photography of Ernest Brooks II, the Ansel Adams of marine photography. He is the son of Ernest Brooks Senior, the founder of Brooks Institute of Photography. This exhibit lasts until April 30.
Not to be missed is the fourth ﬂoor observation deck. It rivals the top of the Courthouse for sheer viewing pleasure and gives an amazing view across the harbor with the Mesa, the Riviera, and Montectio all in sight. The Maritime Museum is a ﬁ ne addition to your favorite places when showing oﬀ the town. Take the kids—take the whole family. Enjoy a nice walk around the harbor and the breakwater.
The museum is open every day, except Wednesday, from 10 am to 5 pm including the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Rates are $8 for adults, $5 for seniors, students and youth under 17.
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