Tarpon Springs, Florida: Spongeorama
See the movie, wander the museum, and learn about our blobby squishy friend, the natural sponge. Roadsideamerica.com Report... [11/18/2012]
Spongeorama: Diver's Nightmare
What happens when a deep sea diver ascends too quickly, then spends 45 years in a display at the free Sponge Museum? A photo collage. Roadsideamerica.com Report... [11/18/2012]
Visitor Tips and News About Spongeorama
The museum was closed due to "hurricane damage." The staff seemed disgruntled when we stated that the museum was our main reason for stopping by. When we asked which hurricane, we were told that it was "the one in September." I wouldn't hold up high hopes for the museum's reopening. Side note: We selected a couple of sponges from the yellow (cheaper) sponge bin for purchase, but were told at the desk that they were really wool sponges that someone must have put in there erroneously, and were charged the higher price. Be forewarned to be a smart shopper![Jolly Padrida, 02/27/2017]
Spongeorama has a murky history of vaguely-explained closings and unsympathetic staff. Access to it may be tied to individual visitors' willingness to buy stuff.
After reading the Roadside America tips on this place, my sister and I knew we had to stop on our trip to Florida. The "museum" consists of a series of dark hallways full of dioramas telling the the history of the sponge industry in Florida. The deteriorated dioramas with life-size mannequins trapped in dusty cases could easily have been in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Then you notice the rotting wooden posts and termite-damaged frames holding the whole thing up. We got the feeling this place has been passed on to a generation who has no interest in keeping it up... so run, don't walk to to this place before it collapses into the sea.[Mary, 03/28/2016]
The past-its-expiration-date infrastructure of Spongeorama is part of its charm, and really does convey the shadowy terror of sponge diving.
Although the owner showed us the movie, and the building was open, the diorama/museum part was closed when we were there around December 20, 2014. I had called first to ask if they were open, but you need to ask, "Is the entire museum open with the dioramas, etc.?" The owner said they'd be re-opening some time after Christmas (I wanted to jump the rope to get into the museum to see the dramatization of the victim of "the bends").
The movie is a hoot -- it reminded me of a Roger Corman sci-fi flick -- but it was informative. The people are very nice there.
Tarpon Springs is a quaint little harbor town; a day trip is definitely suggested. They have lots of restaurants and gift shops. You can see the boats with sponges drying on lines. The people were very friendly. There were beautiful mosaic tile scenes of sponge divers.[Kim G., 01/04/2015]