The SeaQuest Costume Museum
“…John was a very dedicated collector of SeaQuest costumes – We spent $1000 at the Universal Auction in 1995 and he had me scour sites in Orlando for years after the series end. It was out there and he knew what he wanted. John very diligently tracked it down and bought it…”
– Diane Kachmar, Co-Curator
The collection of John & Diane Kachmar was the single largest inventory of screenused costumes and props from SeaQuest ever made available to the viewing public. A lifelong science-fiction fan, John would spend a large chunk of inheritance at the famed Universal SeaQuest auction, where he walked away with over fifteen styles of uniform and various patches, artwork and props. So vast and comprehensive was the archive that John decided to open the door of his West Palm Beach home to fans and afford an intimate glimpse into television history –
“We bought items from many, many crew members, a prop maker, the electrician, the janitor and other fans who bought stuff from the studio auction and (re)sold it later. The costume designer was Andrea Ayre Mol – she signed authenticity certificates.
We bought a lot of items from the Intergalactic Trading Company (who put out two catalogues), Sid Cahuenga’s Movie shop (best source for patches) and the World Of Universal Park store and would watch eBay for other items. It was a ‘you had to be there’ kind of a deal – we would drive to Orlando any time we heard there was a dump or sale. For example the two silver Chaodai uniforms were from a guy who bought them for his kids for Halloween and then sold them on. We also put together a Lucas outfit out of odds and ends, nothing from the same show. It was interesting to discover many costumes were commonly available items. The Season 1 black uniforms are actually military flight suits, The khaki uniforms were Dickies workwear and Dagwood wore a Janitor’s coverall from Sears..”
I first became aware of the museum by discovering a website called The Roy Scheider Resource, run by John’s wife Diane, (who I would later find out was researching the definitive book on Roy’s career) following the link to the SeaQuest Costume Museum I was transfixed by the sheer wealth of material on display and vowed one day to make a pilgrimage. By 2003 I had been chatting to John my email for some time and when the opportunity finally arrived to visit I talked my family into driving down during a holiday in Orlando. Somewhat naively we didn’t realise this would be a 500mile round trip on the Florida Turnpike that would consume a whole day…
Arriving in the quaint suburb I remember being greeted enthusiastically at the door by John who ushered myself and my girlfriend (now wife) in for the tour. What followed was two hours of total bewilderment as John talked me through every piece hanging up on racks set up in his front room, all centred around the holy grail of Captain Bridger’s first season Jumpsuit. Charmingly eccentric, John would fire out tales and anecdotes about the show and the outfits, (for example Roy wearing stacked heels in his boots to boost his height and the patches all being torn off and transferred to the new jumpsuits for the second season, etc.).
I tried to compose myself long enough to take video and pictures shown in the gallery below but the results haven’t dated well – hopefully it provides somewhat of a virtual tour – to date I believe its the only footage of the museum in existence –
All too soon the visit was over and John gave me a rare SeaQuest T-Shirt as a souvenir of the occasion. I thanked him for what had been an unforgettable experience and hoped one day to see him again. My one regret is that I didn’t get to meet Diane that day and talk with her about the screenused Amity Police shirt she had from Jaws 2 hanging in the bedroom…
John and I would stay in touch for years afterwards until his sad passing in 2016. I was always flattered when he referred to me as his favourite ever visitor (even though he had entertained many more since) and will always treasure the inscription he made in Diane’s book for me;
The doors on the SeaQuest Museum may have been closed forever but what of the collection? Well, despite offers to break it up and sell it at auction, the contents are now part of the Filmwelt Collection owned by Martin Netter, whose private archive of Star Trek costumes and props have been entertaining his native Germany for years and recently exhibited in the UK. Although no announcement has yet been made, the Filmwelt Center is expanding its current premises on Blackpool’s Golden Mile to accommodate even more Science-Fiction exhibits so the SeaQuest Museum may one day resurface…