SB Maritime Museum features everything from submarine periscope to upcoming Navy artist’s exhibit
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is gearing up to set sail with a new exhibit this December that will feature paintings by Arthur Beaumont, the official U.S. Navy War Artist of World War II.
That will mark the latest display by a museum with a plethora of naval exhibits.
Known for its rich and diverse interpretation of the maritime history of the Santa Barbara Channel, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum was founded in 2000 by a group of fishermen, divers and sailors who are a part of the area’s thrilling history. Its mission is to create quality exhibits and educational experiences that celebrate the Santa Barbara Channel and illuminate the community’s rich connections with the sea.
Greg Gorga, the museum’s executive director, told the News-Press the new exhibit will feature around 50 magnificent paintings by Mr. Beaumont and will run from December through March.
SBMM is only one of 10 museums in the country selected to feature Mr. Beaumont’s work.
And the museum, which was a Naval Reserve building until the 1990s, is only one of a handful of U.S. museums to have a working periscope from a submarine.
In addition, the museum has what Mr. Gorga believes to be the most important maritime artifact from the Santa Barbara Channel: the giant first order Fresnel lens from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Point Conception Lighthouse.
More than 160 years old, the lens stands more than 18 feet tall and weighs approximately 6,000 pounds.
However, Mr. Gorga said the museum’s largest Naval exhibit explores one of the Navy’s worst moments: the Honda Point disaster. On Sept. 8, 1923, seven U.S. Navy destroyers were shipwrecked, and 23 sailors lost their lives in the Navy’s largest peacetime loss.
In addition to featuring archival photos and artifacts from the Honda Point disaster, the museum also features many other U.S. Navy exhibits including five U.S. Navy ship models, an air-to-water torpedo that was tested by the Navy in the Santa Barbara Channel, a U.S. Navy Mark V diving helmet and an old WAVES uniform.
Although the museum must remain closed at least until Sept. 10 due to COVID-19, it offers virtual tours on its website, sbmm.org. The site also includes virtual activities for kids that cover both the history and skills of the U.S. Navy such as knot tying and how to build Navy ships out of Legos. Other topics vary from sailor diets to the history of lighthouses.
In addition, the museum is hosting Zoom webinars on the third Thursday of each month. The latest one is at 7 tonight and will cover “North America’s Galapagos The Historic Channel Islands Biological Survey.” The program will be hosted by Corinne Heyning Laverty.
In addition, Mr. Gorga said the museum has plans to open another new exhibit in the next couple weeks about the Santa Cruz Acoustic Range Facility on Santa Cruz Island.
Mr. Gorga said more information will be released soon about the SCARF and Beaumont exhibits.