As I mentioned in my last post, the continuing wind during our company’s visit kept us out of the water. We did go down to Key Largo for lunch at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, then over to look at the Wyland Wall, and in to buy snorkel gear for their upcoming trip to St John. We had plenty of time and so headed to the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada. I first visited the museum when researching Islands in the Sand: A History of Artificial Reefs in the USA. The museum had only recently opened and it has been a pleasure to watch the growth.
You can read more about the background of the museum at their website of http://www.divingmuseum.org but in essence, Drs. Joe and Sally Bauer of Ohio balanced their medical careers with passion for marine biology, SCUBA diving, and the history of diving. They began collecting dive helmets and other historic equipment, books, etc., and were interested in the evolution of diving from its earliest concept. Their research took them around the world and they became well-known for the depth and precision of their research, pulling together stories that had been almost lost to time. Their collections and reputations grew internationally and they finally decided to bring all of this together in a “retirement” to South Florida. In truth, it was not remotely a retirement, but rather a new career now dedicated to bringing to public view 4,000 years of man’s efforts to exist within the ocean realm. It was an wonderful endeavor and the museum was opened in 2006 (I think). Sadly, Dr. Joseph Bauer passed away unexpectedly in 2007. His wife, Dr. Sally Bauer, coped with her grief, carried on the dream, and has crafted the museum with its unique collections into a place where everyone who dives or has any interest in marine/maritime history should visit.
We are members of the museum and take friends and relatives whenever the opportunity presents, as well as attend numerous events throughout the year. The thing that strikes most people is to see the many (and sometimes truly strange) ways in which man attempted to achieve the ability to exist underwater. Most people don’t realize the connections that date back hundreds and even thousands of years. The museum, which also has a lovely exterior mural, has aspects that children also enjoy. It is not a large museum, and no, there aren’t any spectacular shark skeletons, but it is a place where almost everyone learns something new.