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Traveling Exhibit

With an established tradition of creating outstanding touring exhibitions, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum presents Spirits of the Passage: The Story of the Transatlantic Slave TradeThis exhibition provides a compelling and thought-provoking look at the slave trade, a 350 year period of time which remains a pivotal and controversial chapter in the history of the New World. The exhibition, which is based on rare artifacts from the incomparable shipwreck collection of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, is rich in historical research, stunning in visual design, and captivating in its storytelling.

Museum guests will see authentic artifacts from an actual slave ship including restraints, tools, trade goods, weapons, and more.  In addition, a life-size slave hold offers a chilling glimpse into travel aboard a slaver on the high seas.  The exhibition also includes objects from West African societies that demonstrate the uniqueness of African cultures as well as the most up-to-date underwater archaeological research and discoveries. 

Compelling artifacts, maps, and illustrations create a provocative picture of this tragic era, while capturing the spirit and legacy of the people who were enslaved.  The exhibition is shipped with one empty display case and panel template to allow each museum to personalize the exhibition by telling its community's unique story.

Spirits of the Passage is modular in design which makes it adaptable for a variety of spaces.  While designed specifically for a 2,500 - 3,500 sq ft gallery, it may be appropriate for smaller museums that want a more focused presentation while larger museums may want to discuss the possibility of adding additional elements to expand the footprint of the exhibition.​

The exhibition is presented in six thematic sections:












​Thirteen years ago, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum created the critically acclaimed touring exhibition, "A Slave Ship Speaks: the Wreck of the Henrietta Marie."


"Slave Ship" toured for thirteen years to thirty-five venues in three countries and attracted more than 4 million visitors.  Early reviews make it clear that this new exhibit has the capacity to exceed those records.

To book this exhibition for your museum, go HERE.​​​

  • Section 1:  African Culture and Community
  • Section 2:  Slave Trade in Africa
  • Section 3:  Slave Ships and the Middle Passage
  • Section 4:  Insurrection and Weapons
  • Section 5:  Slave Trade in the New World
  • Section 6:  After Slavery

​Initial exhibition research was based on the book Spirits of the Passage, by Madeleine H. Burnside, Ph.D.

Click cover art to purchase the book.

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