Saturday, April 02, 2005


Treasure Coast shipwreck exhibit puts you in a sailor's shoes

By Valerie Nienberg
March 30, 2005

JASON NUTTLE staff photographer
Mike and Kim Gallagher of Nazareth, Pa., try their
hand at an interactive sailing course on display at
the Elliott Museum's "Shipwrecks and Rescues 1550-2000"
exhibit. The exhibit will be at the museum through the
end of September.

The colorful history that lies beneath Treasure Coast waters has surfaced at the Elliott Museum in Stuart.

"Shipwrecks and Rescues 1550-2000" is an interactive exhibit chronicling the history of shipwrecks off the Treasure Coast. It is open to the public until the end of September.

The show features a room full of maritime history, artifacts, videos, interactive elements and kid-friendly displays. "History isn't fun unless you can bring it down to a kid's level of understanding," said Renee Booth, visitor services director for the Historical Society of Martin County. "Then, it's addicting."

Guests can find out what it's like to work and live in a lighthouse or steer a sailboat. They can try their hand at tying nautical knots, or spell their name with signal flags.

Signs in both English and Spanish detail Florida's shipwreck history, from the houses of refuge — safe houses for sailors built along the coastline — to the story of the German U-boats and how they sank American ships in Treasure Coast waters during World War II.

The exhibit also includes video footage of Coast Guard rescues at sea, as well as a history of lifesaving efforts along the Treasure Coast.

On Friday, Mike Gallagher of Nazareth, Pa., twirled a large captain's wheel to navigate a computer-generated sailboat through open water. "I'm trying to keep it from not tipping over," Gallagher said.

It was his first trip to the Elliott Museum. "So far, it looks nice," said his wife, Kim.

"Shipwrecks and Rescues" was produced at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida in Miami, and includes elements from the Elliott Museum and a dozen other organizations.

"People can learn just a little bit about the history of the Treasure Coast," Booth said. "I'm hoping that this exhibit creates an interest in our community so that we can get support for research."

If you go
WHAT: "Shipwrecks and Rescues 1550-2000," an interactive exhibit on the history of shipwrecks and other maritime stories along the Treasure Coast.

WHERE: The Elliott Museum, 825 N.E. Ocean Blvd., Hutchinson Island, Stuart

WHEN: Now through Sept. 30. Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 1-4 p.m.

COST: $6 adults, $2 children

LECTURE: A discussion of the significance of the U.S. Life-Saving Service in South Florida will take place April 6 at 1 p.m.

INFORMATION: (772) 225-1961,


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