The Museum of Man in the Sea on Panama City Beach contains a priceless collection of equipment and vessels used to explore inner-space.
The museum, located on Back Beach Road, just west of Highway 79 is home to the U.S. Navy's Sealab-One, one of the museum's largest displays. But Sealab is in desperate need of restoration.
The divers who lived on board "Sealab" set all kinds of underwater endurance records. In 1964, four men stayed underwater in Sealab for 11 days in the Gulf of Mexico just offshore from Panama City Beach.
Spearheading the fundraising effort is Sam Barth.
"If it weren't for Sealab, deep sea diving wouldn't exist."
Sam is the son of Bob Barth, one of the pioneers of diving and a participant in the Sealab One project. But more than 40 years has now past and Sealab-One has spent most of that time as one of the centerpieces of the Museum of Man in the Sea.
The majority of exhibits at the museum come from the local Navy base and it's days as an experimental dive unit, but time hasn't been kind to the underwater relic, and the original Sealab needs some work.
Local diving and naval enthusiasts are asking the community for donations to restore this treasure. Museum managers have come up with a unique way to raise some of the money.
Barth says they are selling some antique diving helmets.
"We have about 120-130 of them and they make a good piece to put on your shelf. they're full sized diving helmets and they are Russian which is a little unusual. You can see the tag is in Russian.”
The helmets are available for a $200 donations, but any cash donation would be appreciated and tax deductible without a problem.
If you're interested in getting one of the diving helmets or would like to help in the restoration effort, call the museum at 234-4101
The Museum is located on Back Beach road just a few blocks west of Highway 79 at Panama City Beach. It’s open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.