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Key West Shipwreck Museum exterior
Key West Shipwreck Museum interior
Tour guides outside the Key West Shipwreck Museum
Captain's tower in the Key West Shipwreck Museum

About the Museum

Discover the perils of the shipwrecking industry as you journey back in time to 1851. See how the rewards of this dangerous profession made Key West one of the richest cities in America. Artifacts, laser technology, video presentations and live actors as well as a 65-foot observation tower make the museum a unique experience. See and hear film clips, interviews and actual underwater footage in the re-created shipwrecker’s warehouse. Experience the mesmerizing tale of the Isaac Allerton, one of the richest shipwrecks in the history of Key West. Many of the artifacts on display come from her watery grave. Summon all your strength to lift a silver bar salvaged from a Spanish galleon. Learn about Asa Tift and other individuals who made their fortunes in the exciting and perilous world of wreck salvage.

Climb to the top of the Captain’s Observatory and imagine yourself spotting the wrecks of Spanish galleons and turn-of-the-century cargo ships like the wrecking captains of old. A top attraction in Key West for kids of all ages.

The exhibits inside this amazing museum chronicle the men who risked their lives for fame and fortune. You will experience the adventures of a daring wrecker crew as they battle the elements to save lives and a ship’s precious cargo. Hear tales of dangerous wrecks on the treacherous reefs, daring rescues and amazing recoveries that were often performed without diving equipment. Get a glimpse into 19th-century life in Key West and the influence that the wrecking industry had on the island. View recovered sunken treasure from various ships that were lost at sea, including a 64-pound silver bar salvaged from the Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas. Hear the mesmerizing tale of the Isaac Allerton. Many of the artifacts on display come from her watery grave. In addition to listening to interviews, you can view film clips and actual undersea footage related to the life of a wrecker in the below sea level theater. Climb to the top of the observation tower for a wonderful bird’s-eye-view of the surrounding area.

Museum Highlights

Key West Shipwreck Museum exterior with ship
Discover the world and history of shipwrecking
Group tour inside the Key West Shipwreck Museum
Hear about the Isaac Allerton which wrecked off Key West
Isaac Allerton
Spanish Galleon
Lift a genuine silver bar from a Spanish galleon
Touch Silver
Group tour inside the Key West Shipwreck Museum
Hands-on, immersive activities for children and adults
Family- Friendly
Family inside the Key West Shipwreck Museum
Step back into 150 years of history
Family enjoying the view from the tower in Key West Shipwreck Museum
Imagine spotting wrecks of Spanish galleons at the Captain's 65' Observatory
Climb a 65' Tower
Key West Shipwreck Museum top exterior

The History of Wreck Salvage in Key West

Beginning with the galleons that plied the Spanish Main, more than 100 ships a day ventured past Key West filled with valuable cargo. During the Age of Sail, these were some of the most treacherous waters in the world; at least one ship a week would wreck on the nearby reefs. Wrecker captains would climb lookout towers to watch the reef day and night in an attempt to be the first to claim the salvage rights. The recovered goods would be sold at auction with the wreckers earning between 25 and 50 percent of the profits, which was based on the difficulty of the salvage operation. The advent of the railroad and better navigational aids significantly reduced the number of wrecks. Due to this change the salvage court closed in 1921, ending the era when the cry “Wreck Ashore” sent adventurers into the crashing waves in search of sunken riches.

Know Before You Go

Rated as one of the best attractions in the city, the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum is open 365 days a year from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Enjoy a self-guided tour. Children 3 and under are admitted free of charge. On-street parking at Mallory Square is limited. A parking garage is also situated close by.

Click here for the nearest trolley stop.

Click here for more information.

Things to Do Nearby

Tickets & Schedule

We give plenty of daily tours making it easier for you to plan your time here in Key West!

*Reservations are NOT needed or accepted. Tickets can be used on any operating day within 12 months of the purchase date.



9:30am to 5:30pm.
Last entry at 5:00pm.


1 Whitehead St.
Key West, FL 33040


Parking is available at Mallory Square or Opal Key Resort Parking garage.

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