Current Exhibits

  • Explore the rich maritime heritage of the Central Coast through diverse and interactive exhibits.

  • From seaplanes to surfing, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum captures the unique stories that shape the region’s history.

  • Interactive exhibits allow visitors to try their hand at fishing, survey the waterfront through an authentic submarine periscope, and navigate into the harbor from our Survival at Sea Pilot House.

  • Discover how the sea has shaped the character of the Central Coast

The Light at Point Conception: Prints by Hank Pitcher

Prints on Sale in Museum Store

Art Exhibit Open until September 8, 2014

“The Light at Point Conception” is a selection of museum quality prints of original paintings by Hank Pitcher that focus on his 40 year long fascination with the land and sea near this legendary lighthouse.
Thirty-five miles west of Santa Barbara, this headland is a wild place, sacred to the Chumash, and notorious to mariners for its treacherous waters, extreme winds and unpredictable weather. The waters near this division between northern and southern California are known to surfers and divers as a place of frequent shark attacks. It is surrounded by miles of private, working cattle ranches and is normally only visible by plane or by boat.
This exhibit includes prints of the lighthouse over the past 30 years.
These prints are reproductions of paintings primarily held in private collections, many of which have never been exhibited. A limited number of select prints will be available for purchase in support of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Hank Pitcher’s paintings are grounded in a particular sense of place. In this exhibit, his surfboard images are the symbol of California beach culture…strong, definite, positive. His Point Conception Lighthouse and landscape images are euphoric and powerfully symbolic of a remote place which few have experienced. A lesson in “simplicity, ” his works create an illusion of innocence which is the construct of a painting whose actual complexity can be read on many levels.

Mimi Michaelis,
Chris Lancashire,
Sexwax Incorporated,
Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery

The Ellwood Shelling: Scouts are Strong for America

This personal collection from former Boy Scout and Goleta resident, Pete Langlo, tells the story of the civil defenders that volunteered in the aftermath of the Ellwood Shelling to protect their neighbors and assist in the war efforts. As a 12 year old Boy Scout, Langlo describes collecting scraps for metal drives and serving as an airplane spotter, while his grandfather worked as an Air Warden. Using Langlo’s memorabilia, the exhibit aims to show what it was like to be a kid, a parent, or a family in World War II Santa Barbara. Highlights include the mandatory dog tags Langlo wore as an elementary school student, his complete 1940s-era Boy Scout uniform, and the tin door from a pump house blasted by shells. The exhibit will be on display for the next year.

Goleta’s Cannons

Goleta’s Cannons features two of the historic cannons found on the Goleta coast on January 23, 1981. The exhibit highlights clues to the cannon’s past, how the community restored these artifacts, and step-by-step instructions for how cannons of that era were fired, including audio of an actual cannon firing. The cannons are on loan from the Goleta Valley Historical Society.

Loughead Seaplane

Originally built by brothers Malcolm and Allan Loughead, the F-1 seaplane was constructed in Santa Barbara for the U.S. Navy in World War I. After the war, the brothers used the seaplane for sightseeing trips and aerial filming for Flying A Studios films. Suspended from the museum’s ceiling is a 1/4 scale flying model of the F-1 built by the Santa Barbara Radio Control Modelers Club. Malcolm and Allan’s Company eventually became Lockheed Martin.

Boat Model Gallery

Located throughout the museum, boat models from the museum’s collection provide insight into various ship designs as well as the artistry of model making. The museum also houses the complete collection of intricate radio-controlled models made by Dwight Brooks. All models have been built with intricate detail in mind.

Marilyn S. Tennity Surfing Exhibit

Discover the rich surf history of the Central Coast through this interactive exhibit, which features one-of-a-kind artifacts, oral histories with surfing greats and a surf board you can stand on.

Barry & Jean Schuyler Environmental Exhibit

Explore environmental issues related to the sea, and how they are being addressed. This exhibit highlights issues of contemporary significance, as research and environmental issues evolve over time. The interactive display delves into major environmental concerns including recreation, resource extraction, shipping and urbanization.

Survival at Sea

From historic lighthouses to state-of-the-art rescue and emergency equipment, learn about aids to navigation, boating safety, and the professional organizations that keep the seas safe. The exhibit also includes an interactive Pilot House and video footage of vessels in storm conditions.

Commercial Fishing & Diving Technology

From harpoon fishing to modern fisheries management, the Mario M. Castagnola Commercial Fishing exhibit uses artifacts and images to tell the story of Santa Barbara’s historic fishing industries. Hardhat diving has been part of local history since the late 1800s when abalone became a sought-after delicacy and continues today with urchin fishery and oil extraction. The Fred Kavli Diving Technology exhibit features historic diving helmets, suits and compressors. In October 2009, the Maritime Museum became the West Coast home to the Historical Diving Society.

Robert Kieding Charting Exhibit

This display of nautical charts captures the progression of understanding of the Santa Barbara Channel over time. Featured charts include California as an island and a rare chart of Anacapa by artist James McNeill Whistler.

Channel Islands Ranching

Through the display of historic artifacts and images, the story of ranching on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands comes to life. Learn about the personalities, products and environment that made island ranching possible.

Shipwrecks of the Channel

Discover the stories behind the Santa Barbara Channel shipwrecks. Displays on the CubaWinfield Scott and Honda Disasterprovide access to historic artifacts, images and insight into the underwater archaeology used to locate, research and preserve these underwater cultural resources. Exhibits on the Cuba and Winfield Scott were made possible through funding from NOAA.

Gail Berkus Children’s Gallery

Young explorers learn about the sea in fun and creative ways. To train “green-hand” sailors, we have a knot tying station, pirate vocabulary and signal flags for maritime messages! The whole family can take part in puppet shows, sea stories, crafts and more. Kids are encouraged to create ocean-inspired art for Gallery display. Check our events calendar for educator-run programming such as storytelling and sing-a-longs. Plus our “treasure map” activity encourages children to explore the entire museum.

Historic Path

Discover the rich maritime history of California’s Central Coast, dating back over 10,000 years to the region’s earliest seafarers, the Chumash. The Historic Path features a Chumash tomol, an interactive explorer map, and artifacts that bring the area’s long maritime history to life.

EXHIBITS INCLUDE: Chumash Exhibit, Santa Barbara Bank and Trust Explorers Exhibit, Otter and Seal Hunting Exhibit, Hide and Tallow Trade Exhibit, Supply Ships Exhibit, Shore Whaling Exhibit, and George Castagnola Family Santa Barbara Waterfront Exhibit