Tag Archives: Exhibits

Unique research, conservation and visitor lab space opens at St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

Museum opens new Maritime Archaeology & Education Center as part of the progress of the Maritime Heritage Park

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – On Thursday, September 28th the Museum celebrated a project twenty years in the making with the opening of a new building that houses an education and exhibit space as well as conservation labs, research library, an x-ray room and offices. Over one hundred people including elected officials, the Museum’s Board of Trustees, Museum members and longtime supporters attended the celebration.

“I began working on the restoration of the Keepers’ House through my involvement in the Junior Service League in the early ‘80s so it is truly a dream come true to see the archaeology and education center open,” said Judy Burnett Albright, a longtime volunteer, board member and now Trustee Emeritus. “Here, we are saving history, teaching children and providing new opportunities to locals and visitors to learn about our shared connection to the ocean all while we keep the light shining. I couldn’t be prouder to be a small part of this exciting project that is making a difference in our community!”

The new facility is unique to northeast Florida and has many notable features. Keeping the visitor in mind in the design process, the set-up of the lab spaces provide a walk-thru viewing room with a TV to help zoom in on an important detailed process that may be occurring. There is also a section of a ship’s portholes below the viewing window for a children’s view into the labs. The entire process of conservation from start to finish is on show here and staff anticipates people growing attached to a particular object undergoing conservation efforts and making repeat return trips to check on the status of an important object.

The new exhibition, Legends of the Light, is installed partially in the new building’s education space and partially in the Lighthouse tower. As one climbs the 219 steps to the top, information-packed but still fun and playful interpretive panels dot the landings as the visitor ascends. For those who cannot or choose not to climb the tower, there are plenty of hands-on activities and visuals for children and adults alike in the new building’s exhibit portion, including a Lighthouse tower playhouse and a fourth-order Fresnel lens.
“We’ve had such an outpouring of support from the community on this project,” said Kathy Fleming, Executive Director. “This new building with its lab spaces and new exhibition space is a very tangible addition to our Museum. I think that helped make it a more exciting project to get behind. We’re so thankful to those who’ve helped us along the way as we celebrate this accomplishment together because in the end, every person, every dollar and every hour donated helped us get to this point.”

Although all Museum members were invited to the event due to each member having some involvement in the fundraising process, there were some extremely generous donors recognized both at the event and with naming plaques within the new building including The Lastinger Family Foundation, Charles G. Cox, Gerald and Janet Carlisle, Judy Burnett Albright, Joe and Margaret Finnegan, Junior Service League of St. Augustine, Dr. Ron Dixon and PGA Tour, Inc.


A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest PortSM. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)(3) non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest PortSM as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

Learn About Our New Exhibit During Museum Week

Legends of the Light

After months of planning, we are less than a week away from beginning the installation of Legends of the Light a new exhibit here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. The landings of the staircase will display historic photographs and stories of the people who lived and worked at the Lighthouse. The Maritime Archaeology & Education Center (MAEC) will present more keepers’ stories and play host to a large selection of ship models from our collection. For more information on what you will see in this exciting new exhibit, read about it here.

Members of the Collections Division carefully relocate a display of broken Fresnel lens prisms during exhibit preparation.

Our staff members have been busy preparing for the installation for the past few weeks. Every collections item that goes into the exhibit needs careful cleaning and assessment to ensure it is in good condition. Staff has also worked hard to paint exhibit cases to get them ready for display. Old exhibit signs in the Lighthouse are being removed to make room for the new exhibit panels. Workers are quickly readying the MAEC for occupation. The exhibit fabricators are completing off-site assembly of exhibit components to ensure a smooth and quick installation process. Continue reading

Opening Soon! Legends of the Light Exhibit

Right now, the sounds of construction punctuate the Lighthouse grounds, as a new building takes shape. The Maritime Archaeology & Education Center (MAEC) will house offices, education space, a maritime archaeology center, and a new exhibit space. Behind the scenes, our Interpretation division is working with exhibit designers to create an engaging and informative exhibit detailing the history of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and the people that lived and worked there.

Maria Andreu was keeper at the Old St. Augustine Lighthouse
Maria Andreu was keeper at the Old St. Augustine Lighthouse

The new exhibit is entitled Legends of the Light with plans to open summer 2017. It will tell the stories of the lighthouse keepers and their families who called the St. Augustine Lighthouse home. Visitors will learn about the first night William Russell lit the light at the top of the tower. They will see photographs of the Old Spanish Watchtower and get to examine a model of the tower as it looked before the ocean claimed it in 1880. The exhibit also highlights the stories of Maria Andreu and Kate Harn, two keepers’ wives who themselves served as keepers at the St. Augustine Light Station after the passing of their husbands. Continue reading

Wrecked! Grand Opening


We were so humbled by the turnout at last night’s Wrecked! Exhibition Grand Opening! Thank you to everyone who joined us, and especially Ancient City Brewing, musician Justin Gurnsey, and Jackie Hird Photography who helped us provide a great night for our guests.

We also christened and launched our 1760s British Yawl boat, built by our incredible volunteers at the Lighthouse Heritage Boatworks.

If you didn’t get a chance to come by, you have plenty of time to visit and see this interactive exhibition for yourself! Bring the whole family, you’re sure to have a blast.

Below are just a few photos from this great night — enjoy!

More than a hundred guests looked on as Associate Pastor Hunter Camp from Memorial Presbyterian Church christened the “Heart of Oak” yawl boat built by volunteers in our Heritage Boatworks.
After the christening, “Heart of Oak” took her inaugural voyage with our Lighthouse staff rowing crew including Dr. Sam Turner, Olivia McDaniel, Scott Smith, Paul Zielinski, and Mason Rogers.
Brian McNamara and the Bellasarius Crew provided our guests with a living history demonstration (complete with a well-timed musket firing!) of Revolutionary War-era life.
Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming welcomes our guests to the exhibit opening.
We were honored to have many of our underwater archaeology field school students who worked on the shipwreck over the last six years present for the exhibition opening. All of the students who attended are now employed in the archaeology field.
Theresa Floyd, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Brenda Swann, Director of Collections and Interpretation, cut the ribbon to officially open Wrecked!
We were fortunate to have not one, but TWO lovely ladies portray our new exhibit character, Star Waters! Guests enjoyed stepping into the photo booth with both Stars throughout the night.
Live music for the evening was provided by local musician Justin Gurnsey.

Making of an Exhibit: Moving Ain’t Easy

What does it take to build a brand new museum exhibit? Over the next few months, we’re going to give you exclusive access behind the scenes as our team works together to createWrecked! a new experience coming to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum in May 2016.

» Read our first entry “Boxes & Beginnings”

Fact: Cannons are really heavy

Imagine this scenario: You have a delicate, 18th century cannon that ways a ton (literally, it weighs about 2,000 lbs.) located in the basement of an equally delicate 19th century historic building and you need to move it.

Oh, but that’s just the first cannon.

Yeah, that’s right, there’s TWO of them. The second one isn’t as heavy as the first (only around 1,000 lbs.) but it’s got to go into the basement in place of the larger cannon.

On top is the Industry cannon from 1764  and below it is the Wrecked! cannon from 1782
On top is the Industry cannon from 1764 and below it is the Wrecked! cannon from 1782

Who you gonna call?

(No, it’s not who you think — but we do have those guys on speed dial for other reasons…)

Our staff has moved a few cannons on occasion, but for this big step in preparing for our new exhibit, we knew right away that this task would require some additional help.

Thankfully, the fantastic team at Nieman & Co. Rigging and Crane Services, Inc. was up to the task. These guys are experts in moving big objects — they’ve transported everything from ancient sculptures to nuclear submarine simulators.

With our grant support from the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources and the State of Florida, we hired the team at Nieman to come in and help us relocate two of the biggest pieces in our Museum collection to their new homes, respectively.

Wait, why did we have to move cannons in the first place?

Continue reading