Bring Maritime History to Your Community

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is pleased to provide traveling exhibitions to enhance and support your museum’s community offerings. Six exhibits are available, covering everything from Santa Barbara harbor history, to ocean life, and even mermaids.

SBMM celebrates more than 13,000 years of maritime history in the region – from Chumash culture to today’s surfing and environmental movements. Our traveling exhibitions allow your organization to further share maritime history with your community.


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Our Channel Islands
Photographs by Ernest H. Brooks II

Brooks led great industry advances as he was a trailblazer in the development of underwater photographic equipment and technique. This exhibition includes 20 black and white fine-art photographs on mounted canvas selected from Brooks’ 2002 book and exhibit Silver Seas. The bold prints feature imagery from the Santa Barbara Channel Islands as well as Antarctica and the Arctic.

Mermaids: Visualizing the Myths and Legends

In ancient times, sailors returning home from long voyages told fantastic tales of mysterious sea creatures – giant krakens that could toss ships into the air, sea serpents dragging boats to their doom, and mermaids who lured sailors to their death. The myths of sea creatures and merfolk are part of nearly every culture in human history. Most of the images in this exhibit come from an underwater photography course taught by Ralph Clevenger through Brooks Institute and include 16 fine-art underwater photographs on mounted canvas featuring mermaids off the coast of the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.

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Marine Megatropolis (1974-1981) - Photographs by Bob Evans

SBMM’s Marine Science program embarks on a 2-hour floating lab aboard a local vessel. Students explore the Santa Barbara Channel and experience coastal California as citizen scientists. Working in small groups students participate in labs that include sampling water quality, observing marine invertebrates, studying plankton, and oceanic food webs. SBMM created this program to allow youth access to the local marine environment.

Face to Face with the Great Whites - Photographs by Ralph Clevenger

Ocean Connections links art, ocean awareness, and marine ecology education. With trained Ocean Educators students are introduced to the unique oceanographic conditions that make the Santa Barbara Channel so productive and diverse with wildlife. Educators share important ecological facts on why ocean health is critical to the sustainability of our planet discussing tangible solutions that empower students to be stewards of our water planet.  This will set the stage for a session creating Love Letters to the Sea. 

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The Lure of Lighthouses and Dancing Waves

Lighthouses illuminate a sea that is never still. Whether looking at the ocean from the shore or a boat, we expect to see waves. A transmission of wind energy across the ocean, a wave travels endlessly until it breaks onshore. How it breaks depends on how it meets the shore, and whether the profile of the shoreline is shallow or steep. Colorful and dramatic photographs are printed on aluminum to enhance the color and light of lighthouses near and far and are coupled with images of breath-taking photos of waves throughout the world.

170 Years of Harbor History

Using archival images, this exhibit depicts some of the most important moments in the creation of Santa Barbara’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.

Two men fishing.