Exhibits at SBMM take you on a winding journey through two floors where you will learn about:  Early Explorers, the Chumash, Whaling, History of the Waterfront, Commercial Diving and Technology, Commercial Fishing, The History of Oil in the Santa Barbara channel, Surfing, Navigation, Shipwrecks, Channel Island Ranching, Point Conception Lighthouse Lens, and Santa Barbara Lighthouse Women Keepers.

Interactive exhibits include: sustainable fishing in a kelp forest, raising a sail, sorting trash into world gyres, virtual sport fishing, tattoo parlor and virtual dive. SBMM inspires learning through these interactive exhibits.

Our Art Gallery is currently displaying Rum Runners, Sailors, and Prohibition through October, 2019. SBMM opens its latest exhibit traveling from the Maritime Museum of San Diego with additions highlighting the local rum running in Santa Barbara, one of the busiest places in California during Prohibition.  The exhibit tells the story of rum, the part it played in the rich history of sea-going men and its connection to Santa Barbara.  Covering more than 400 years, the exhibit illustrates the new world’s first distilled spirit from its origins on 17th century Caribbean sugar cane plantations and the role of slavery: the uncovered stories of British and American sailors; Prohibition bootlegging / rum running- the organized smuggling of imported whiskey, rum and other liquor by sea and over land in the United States to Speakeasies, highlighting story of rum runner “Bill” of Real McCoy Rum. This engaging and educational experience will surely be enjoyed by rum and maritime buffs.


Our newest exhibit is History of Oil in the Santa Barbara Channel.  Oil has been a part of our maritime history for thousands of years. The Chumash utilized the natural seeps in our channel for their tomols and baskets, the world’s first offshore oil well stood off Summerland Beach, commercial diving technology flourished in Santa Barbara due to oil production, and the modern environmental movement grew out of the 1969 Oil Spill. Today, oil affects every facet of our lives, even as we move towards renewable energy sources.

Tryout our new Virtual Tour