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170 Years of Harbor History – Archival Photographs from the Permanent Collection

September 15, 2023 @ 8:00 am - January 22, 2024 @ 5:00 pm

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The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is pleased to announce the opening of its latest exhibition 170 Years of Harbor History, a selection of photographs of Santa Barbara’s harbor and waterfront from 1853 to the present. The exhibition of archival images depicts some of the most important moments in the creation of the city’s vibrant waterfront—from the establishment of Stearns Wharf in 1872 to the building of the breakwater and subsequent formation of Leadbetter Beach and today’s harbor business district.

“The Santa Barbara Harbor is alive with activity – thriving businesses and restaurants, boating and sailing, water sports, and marine life – all while welcoming visitors both locally and from around the world,” said SBMM Deputy Director Jessica Tade. “170 Years of Harbor History reminds us about the origins of our impressive harbor while providing stunning imagery of its ever-changing nature.”

Interspersed with keystone events are snapshots of daily life including typical harbor scenes from decades ago. The images span nearly two centuries of the region’s vast and rich maritime culture, which dates back more than 10,000 years and is intertwined with the history of the indigenous Chumash and Tongva peoples.

“There is something about the power of these photographs to elicit an immediate emotional response of a memory, a place, an experience,” said Curator and Collections and Exhibitions Director Emily Falke.

Today, Santa Barbara’s harbor remains one of the few commercial fishing harbors still in operation in California, and it hasn’t lost its charm. Historic vessels still fish the local waters, and the local catch is still sold at the popular Fisherman’s Market on Saturday mornings.

170 Years of Harbor History will be on view from September 15, 2023 to January 21, 2024. Learn more about visiting the museum at sbmm.org or by calling 805 962-8404.

The exhibition is generously sponsored by George H. and Olive J. Griffiths Charitable Foundation; Mimi Michaelis; The June G. Outhwaite Charitable Trust; and Wood-Claeyssens Foundation.


Upcoming Events


Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
113 Harbor Way
Santa Barbara, CA 93109 United States
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805 962 8404
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September 15 @ 8:00 am
January 22, 2024 @ 5:00 pm
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Martha Donelan
(805) 456 – 8744
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