The exhibitions at the Nautical Museum of Bahia take visitors through hydrographics, navigation in Bahia in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Portuguese Age of Exploration and marine archaeology. It also explores the history and culture of the Recôncavo, the area bordering Bahia de Todos os Santos, and the transformations the Santo Antônio da Barra Fort has undergone since the 16th century. However, the descriptive posters are in Portuguese.
The most significant maritime archaeology exhibitions came from the Santíssimo Sacramento shipwreck. The 500-ton Portuguese galleon, the flagship of a merchant convoy with 50 vessels, was caught in a storm, hit the Santo Antônio shoal and sank near the Rio Vermelho district, on May 5, 1668. Only 70 people from a crew of over 400 and perhaps up to 800 survived.
The galleon was only found three centuries later. In 1976, the Brazilian Navy, in a partnership with the Ministry of Education and PETROBRAS, sponsored an expedition which recovered bronze and iron cannons, cannonballs, compasses, harcabuses, vases, sacred images, coins, plates, thimbles, buttons, and more from the shipwreck. Many of those items belong to the collection at the Nautical Museum of Bahia.