The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum last week welcomed the Purisima Diving Bell, a gift from its designer’s son Dan Wilson Jr., as the centerpiece of its now-open exhibit. The bright orange contraption, made of two connected spherical chambers, was conceived in the 1960s and was the first commercial bell of its kind in the world. Diving bells, which trap a pocket of air inside as they are lowered into water, were used to transport divers to the depths of the ocean. Through the efforts of members of the City College Marine Diving Technology Department and a courtesy lift from Specialty Crane, the Purisma Bell was restored and transported to the museum from Florida.


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