By Jennifer Campbell - Just Chasing Rabbits
The Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum tells the seafaring history of Biloxi, Mississippi and the Gulf Coast. Sailing, fishing, hurricanes, shrimping, and oystering are all covered in this museum that spans three hundred years of the area’s history. Read on for our list of 5 things you must see at the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum!
1. The Museum Building Itself!
The building is unique and an incredibly appropriate house for its exhibits. The design includes floor to ceiling glass windows that showcase a sailboat called Nydia. Does this remind you of anything? Yep! This museum is a huge “ship in a bottle”! Clever, right?
The stilted floor, as seen from the outside, is a design seen around the Gulf Coast to protect buildings in case of rising waters. This design is sadly relevant to the history of the museum itself since the original building was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The current museum was opened in 2014 to once again celebrate Biloxi as the “Seafood Capital of the World.”
We couldn’t help but notice the beautifully lit building as we drove by at night, and we think you’ll find it quite impressive too!
2. The Nydia
The showpiece of the museum, displayed prominently as the “ship in the bottle,” is the Nydia. This boat is thirty feet long and was built in Biloxi in 1898. Visitors can view the Nydia from several levels within the museum and are invited to watch a video telling the story of the Nydia and her owner, Baldwin Woods. Woods, a summer resident of Biloxi and frequent sailor, actually passed away while on board during a sailing adventure.
Wander around the boat, a sloop, in the Grand Hall, and admire the restoration of this beauty. She is a testament to the love of boating and the passion of sailors, whether professional or hobbyists.
Be sure to enjoy the other restored crafts on this same floor.
3. The Shrimp Peeling Machine
Did you even know a such thing exists? I didn’t. Never even thought about it, but this thing is massive. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the shrimp peeling machine was invented in 1949 by a sixteen-year-old! The inventor, James Martial Lapeyre was from Louisiana.
See Related: Biloxi Shrimping Trip: Sealife, Pelicans, and TJ the Boat Dog
This monstrous machine can peel a thousand shrimp in one hour. It makes the process of peeling shrimp so much easier, reducing costs and eliminating the need for laborers.
You’ll notice in the historic photographs that the seafood industry once utilized child labor. Innovations like this machine helped end this practice on the Gulf Coast and will hopefully help end child labor and forced labor in the seafood industry of developing countries as well.
4. Ship Island Lighthouse Lens
Lighthouses, I have seen. Beautiful lighthouse lenses, this was a first. This nineteenth century lens is stunning, looking like a cross between a beautiful jewel and a pineapple.
According to partsolutions.com, the Ship Island lighthouse lens is a 5th order Fresnel Lens, the sixth order being the smallest. Ship Island lies just off the coast of Biloxi and is accessible to visitors via ferry.
Can you just imagine the beam of light that once came out of this? Even unlit, it’s spectacular. I even made the comment that it would make a great design for gift shop items. Just try to tell me you wouldn’t wear this as earrings or a necklace. It’s gorgeous.
5. German U-Boat Replica from U-571
Just outside the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum’s front door, you’ll find a scale model of a submarine. This model just happens to be a movie prop from the 2000 film U-571 starring Matthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton.
It may not be from a huge blockbuster hit, but it’s always interesting to check out movie props. We love finding unusual sights and attractions, so a random submarine on a trailer immediately got our attention. German U-Boat replica on display on the Gulf Coast? Alright, alright, alright!
Visitors can expect to spend a couple of hours viewing the exhibits and various historic items. This museum can be visited using the Gulf Coast Attractions Pass, so be sure to utilize this pass to see seven of the most popular attractions on the coast for one low price!
See Related: 4 Ways to Make Your Visit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Easy Peasy
BONUS: Famous Biloxi Schooners
The Maritime and Seafood Museum has two replica Biloxi oyster schooners, and they can be chartered to sail the Gulf Coast for meetings, receptions, or just for a casual sail. Walk-on sailings are also available for a nominal fee, and the schedule can be found on the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum website.
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