Dive Into History at the History of Diving Museum


Who doesn’t want a reason to visit the beautiful Florida Keys? With convenient flights to Key West, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the History of Diving Museum is a short scenic drive away, located in Islamorada (MM83). Divers and land-lovers alike are amazed by one of the world’s largest collections of diving equipment. Exhibits span over 4,000 years of “man’s quest to explore under the sea’”. The displays tell an international story that highlights both male and female pioneers, as well as those who broke through racial and ethnic barriers to descend to the ocean floor. 

The Museum begins with early breath-hold diving and extends through the development of diving bells, diving machines, hard hats, scuba and technical diving. It includes focused areas like the unique south Florida connection to recreational diving, underwater photography, marine biology and treasure diving. Also highlighted are areas such as Military Divers and Adaptive Diving for those with disabilities. Along with core artifacts, there is a Featured Exhibit room which hosts special interest exhibits for a limited time.

Over 17,000 visitors from all over the world and all 50 states pass through the doors annually for self-guided tours and scavenger hunts. The Museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm and, as an added value to the community and travelers, hosts a FREE Immerse Yourself! Presentation at 7pm on the third Wednesday of every month. HDM also holds unique Dive Into History weekend events throughout the year that include historical presentations and family fun activities. In addition, with scheduling and advanced notice, HDM offers extended hours and guided tours as well as Museum in Motion programs to compliment the mission, artifacts and Featured Exhibits. The programs are available on-site or off-site to present to schools, universities, community groups and organizations. It is our way to enhance the Educational Outreach component which compliments STEM and STEAM programs as well as engage the public.

Planning a trip to the Florida Keys this summer? Dive in to explore our new Featured Exhibit, opening June 2nd. It is a collaboration between NOAA, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Biscayne National Park and Diving with a Purpose (DWP) and reflects the research and marine survey projects worked on during a 15 year partnership. Over the course of that time HDM has hosted several presentations highlighting the progress. In addition, new discoveries have been the focus of documentaries and numerous media reports, most notably “The Guerrero Slave Ship Project”. Celebrating the 15th anniversary makes this a perfect time to gather a collection encompassing the full scope of projects to share with the public, inspiring others to get involved and showing the value of mentoring and citizen science.

The upcoming Featured Exhibit celebrates DWP’s partnering with Sanctuary organizations to further their mission. They are a community-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of submerged heritage resources by providing education, training, certification and field experience to adults and youth in the fields of maritime archaeology and ocean conservation. A special focus of DWP is the protection, documentation, and interpretation of African slave trade shipwrecks and the maritime history and culture of African-Americans who formed a core. 15 Year Odyssey: Restoring our Oceans, Preserving our Heritage will be open from June 2nd to December 31st. Our focus with this exhibit is to grow diversity in the diving community and create a traveling exhibit that will be offered to other Museums and non-profits after leaving HDM.

The History of Diving Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that opened in 2005. It has been awarded consistent Trip Advisor “Certificate of Excellence” Awards and listed in their “Hall of Fame” for the past five years and was honored as the 2019 Readers Choice Award for the “Best Cultural Experience” in the United States and Canada by Sport Diver and Scuba Diving Magazines. The last Featured Exhibit Dive Into Art (January 2019 to April 2019) was a collaboration with the Art Guild of the Purple Isles to show current works by local artist and over 200 pieces made by local students. Also included was the history of early creative forerunners who began sketching scenes underwater inside a diving bell, used a diving suit in the late 1800s to paint underwater and a free-diver whose pieces were used for the cover of Skin Diving Magazine, then continues on to scuba ventures and new projects. The exhibit has been well received by the public and was given a GEM Award by the Monroe County School Board recognizing the creative way to bridge visual arts with history. HDM and the Art Guild are in discussions to do another art project opening in January 2020 that will focus on repurposed marine debris.

Visit DivingMuseum.org/education-tours to find out more about tours, field trips and events or email: programs@divingmuseum.org.

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