Americas Sea


Beginning January 4, 2023, and in conjunction with the 160th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, the National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico (GulfQuest) will be hosting one of the most powerful and important exhibitions it has ever displayed. “Spirits of the Passage: The Story of the Transatlantic Slave Trade” explores the strength of the human spirit through a display of nearly 150 historical objects spanning more than 350 years.

The 3,500 sq. ft. exhibition will be on display through June 21, 2023. It’s the first exhibition of its kind to examine the entire history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade from the 16th to 19th century while presenting modern research and discoveries to the public. These include the latest marine archaeological discoveries, new research on key African societies and an exploration of the slave trade’s legacies.

Produced in partnership by Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida, and the Frazier Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, “Spirits of the Passage” allows guests to see authentic artifacts from the wreck of an actual slave ship as well as dozens of objects from West African societies that show the uniqueness of the individual cultures they represent. These include religious objects, bronze and beadwork, pottery and jewelry. These compelling artifacts, maps, paintings and illustrations create a provocative picture of a tragic era while recognizing the legacy of strength and resilience that enslaved people left behind.

Spirits of the Passage’ represents a wealth of new scholarship on a topic that often gets reduced to data and charts,” former Frazier Museum Executive Director and slave trade historian Madeleine Burnside said. “What’s so rare about this exhibition is how we delve into the details of this haunting world event—with real stories about specific people and coordinating artifacts.”

Spirits of the Passage was developed by the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum (MFMM). Artifacts are on loan from the MFMM, Key West, FL. Photography © 2021 MFMM.

Ticket 2

GulfQuest, along with several other museums and Bellingrath Gardens, is included in Alabama Tourism’s All-in-One 3-Day Mobile Attraction Ticket!

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I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.

John Masefield