Shipwreck! — The 1554 Flota Exhibit

  • J. Barto ArnoldIII
Part of the The Springer Series in Underwater Archaeology book series (SSUA)


The Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History opened a brand-new exhibit in the spring of 1990. Entitled Shipwreck!, the exhibit tells the story of the three Spanish ships lost on Padre Island in 1554. The Texas Antiquities Committee (TAC) is the state agency that conducted the archaeological and historical work on the 1554 flota and has reported on it in a series of publications (e.g., Arnold and Weddle, 1976). The artifacts remained in the public domain. Therefore, detailed studies of the collection and new contributions to knowledge of the past continue (e.g., Skowronek, 1987). Public television produced a documentary film, Graveyard of the Gulf, that the TAC continues to circulate on videotape to schools and other interested groups. The public enjoyed a major traveling exhibition in the middle and late 1970s. Several exhibit formats are described in another IJNA article focusing on the Austin Children’s Museum exhibit on the wrecks (Arnold and Alsup, 1992). The present article describes the definitive permanent exhibition on the 1554 wrecks. Heeding the proverb about pictures, here the text is brief, and the plans and photographs carry the load.


Historical Archaeology Documentary Film Maritime Archaeology Wreck Site Treasure Hunting 
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  1. Arnold, J.B., III, and Alsup, B., 1992, A Children’s Museum Exhibit on the 1554 Flota Wrecks, UNA 21:350–353.Google Scholar
  2. Arnold, J.B., III, and Weddle, R.S., 1976, The Nautical Archaeology of Padre Island: The Spanish Shipwrecks of 1554. Academic Press: New York.Google Scholar
  3. Rosloff, J., and Arnold, J.B., III, 1984, The keel of the San Esteban (1554): Continued Analysis. UNA 13:287–296.Google Scholar
  4. Skowronek, R.K., 1987, Ceramics and Commerce: The 1554 Flota Revisited. Historical Archaeology 212:101–111.Google Scholar
  5. Smith, H.A., 1989, The Building of the Spanish Shipwreck Exhibit at the Corpus Christi Museum. In Underwater Archaeology Proceedings from the Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, edited by J.B. Arnold, III. Baltimore.Google Scholar
  6. Throckmorton, P., 1990, The World’s Worst Investment: The Economics of Treasure Hunting with Real Life Comparisons. Underwater Archaeology Proceedings from the Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, edited by T. Carrell. Tucson, Arizona.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

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  • J. Barto ArnoldIII

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