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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.
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.
Rated as one of the best attractions in the city, the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum is open 365 days a year from 9:40 a.m. until 5 p.m. The last live presentation begins at 4:40 p.m. You can also enjoy a self-guided tour. While senior citizen discounts are available, 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.
We give plenty of daily tours making it easier for you to plan your time here in Key West!
1 Whitehead St.
Key West, FL 33040
9:30am to 5pm.
Last entry at 4:30pm.
*Reservations are NOT needed or accepted. Tickets can be used on any operating day within 12 months of the purchase date.
Parking is available at Mallory Square or Margaritaville Resort Parking garage.