Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.
Spanish treasure ship wreck site. The blocky things are boxes filled with silver coins.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

Field review by the editors.

Key West, Florida

"Maritime" is a euphemism for "sunken treasure" at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Mel (1922-1998) was the self-proclaimed world's greatest treasure hunter, a former Indiana chicken farmer with a dogged American determination to strike it rich -- which he did, after 16 years of trying, when his son found the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha off of Key West. The Spanish treasure ship had sunk in a hurricane in 1622, along with roughly 40 tons of gold and silver, 70 pounds of priceless emeralds, and almost all of its crew.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.
The Poison Cup and its magical gallstones.

Fisher became an instant celebrity multimillionaire and opened his Key West museum to showcase what he called his "fantastic treasures." Visitors gape at piles of gold and silver bars, coins, and jewelry, as well as a full-size recreation of the undersea wreck, while light classical and opera music plays softly in the background.

One highlight is a solid gold "poison cup" -- a chalice that would be filled with llama gallstones that supposedly detoxified any poison slipped into a beverage, by, say, opportunistic Spaniards... or gold-crazy treasure hunters.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

Address:
200 Greene St., Key West, FL
Directions:
Follow US Hwy 1 south to Whitehead St. Turn right. Follow Whitehead St. to Greene St. You'll see the museum on the left.
Hours:
M-F 8:30-5, Sa-Su 9:30-5 (Call to verify)
Phone:
305-294-2633
Admission:
Adults $15.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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