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United States Navy Museums


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United States Navy Museums

Navy Museums, An Armada of History and Heritage
By Miles Hadley, Naval Historical Center Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Although they attract 2 million free admission visitors annually, a rich Navy resource that is often overlooked by Sailors is its "armada" of museums located on shore installations throughout the United States.

From The Navy Museum in Washington, D.C., to the Naval Museum of Armament Technology at China Lake, Calif., the 11 official museums use more than a million artifacts to ensure that the Navy's history is maintained and built upon.

The flagship museum is The Navy Museum located in the historic Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. Recently reaccredited for excellence by the American Association of Museums, its permanent exhibit spans the entire 200-year history of the U.S. Navy. And this year, it is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its establishment by Adm. Arleigh Burke. Web site: www.history.navy.mil/branches/nhcorg8.htm.

Affiliated with Navy Museum, and located nearby, is the Navy Art Gallery. It exhibits examples from the Navy's world-class collection of over 17,000 artworks. Web site: www.history.navy.mil/branches/nhcorg6.htm.

The Naval Civil Engineer Corps/Seabee Heritage Center is unique in that it is one museum with two locations. The exhibit areas are at the Seabee installations in Gulfport, Miss., and Port Hueneme, Calif. And like the force they represent, both sites have been literally buzzing with activity. Since its inception in 1947, this museum continues to lay foundation stones by reminding members of the Naval Civil Engineer Corps and Seabees of their illustrious history. Web site: https://portal.navfac.navy.mil/nfelc.

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk, Va., is different in that it is not located on a Navy installation. Part of a vast maritime museum complex called The Nauticus National Maritime Center; visitors are treated not only to a first-class museum, but also a battleship. The moored USS Wisconsin (BB 64) is still in reserve, despite now being over 50 years old. The ship's deck is very popular for functions, and there is even a "Wisky" walk in the museum explaining all about it. Web site: www.hrnm.navy.mil.

The National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Fla., is one of the largest and most beautiful air and space museums in the world. It boasts over 140 meticulously restored aircraft representing Naval, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation. Perhaps the piece d'resistance is the dazzling seven-story glass and steel atrium that is home to four suspended "Blue Angels" A4 Skyhawks. Another popular feature is part of the flight deck from the World War II aircraft carrier USS Cabot (CVL 28). This museum pulls in droves of visitors each year, even if for only a flying visit! Web site: www.naval-air.org.

The Naval War College Museum, Newport, R.I., is located in a National Historic Landmark at the college ironically called the "Poorhouse." This museum focuses on the milestones in the evolutionary development of war at sea. It also chronicles the close relationship between the Naval War College and the surrounding populace. Web site: www.nwc.navy.mil/museum.

Not only does the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Md., serve as an educational and inspirational resource for the Brigade of Midshipmen there, but also to other students of naval history and thousands of visitors each year. Special emphasis is given to objects that illustrate the role of the naval officer, and those who have attended the Naval Academy. Web site: www.nadn.navy.mil/Museum.

At the Naval Undersea Museum, Keyport, Wash., visitors can immerse themselves in Navy underwater history. This museum combines naval history, underwater technology, and marine science to create an exciting and educational experience for visitors. The museum is particularly child friendly, and has many interactive facilities that provoke further interest and learning. Web site: www.keyportmuseum.cnrnw.navy.mil.

The Navy Supply Corps Museum, Athens, Ga., is housed in the historic 1910 Carnegie library building in the center of the Navy Supply Corps School campus. Artifacts on exhibit include an 1841 purser's uniform and lots of World War II era memorabilia. The museum archives contain supply related documents ranging from old cookbooks to photographs and command histories - a truly abundant "Lucky Bag." Web site: www.nscs.cnet.navy.mil/service2.asp?ID=6.

Visitors can submerge themselves in submarine history at the Submarine Force Museum, Groton, Conn. Artifacts, documents and photographs relating to the submarine service continue to resurface, and it is the job of the museum to collect them for the benefit of all. The museum even has its own submarine moored nearby that visitors can board, the historic USS Nautilus (SSN 571), the first nuclear submarine in the world. Web site: www.ussnautilus.org.

One of the younger museums in the museum "armada" is the Naval Museum of Armament and Technology, China Lake, Calif. Established in 2000 after a ten-year effort by volunteers and Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) employees, it showcases the advance of air warfare weapons development in the Navy. Web site: www.chinalakemuseum.org.

The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is currently located in a temporary building on NAS Patuxent River, Md., but will soon be reopening at a new location in nearby Lexington Park. It is the only museum in the United States dedicated to preserving the rich heritage of the research, development, test and evaluation (RDT & E) of naval aircraft. It is hoped that the new museum will eventually display a stripped down F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet. Web site: www.paxmuseum.com.

"The Navy's "armada" of museums is eclectic, and continues to provide a vital role in the education of Sailors and civilians alike. The museums represent the Navy's heritage; and amongst them, its past, both in war and peace, is collected, stored and exhibited for the benefit of young and old," said Dr. William S. Dudley, director, Naval Historical Center.

For related news, visit the Naval Historical Center Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/navhist.

The National Park Service wishes to acknowledge the Naval Historical Center for their contributions and assistance in the development of this web site.