#MuseumMonday: National Museum of the United States Navy

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The National Museum of the United States Navy was established in 1961 and opened to the public in 1963. As an official Department of the Navy museum under the Naval History and Heritage Command, the National Museum of the United States Navy is the only Navy museum to present an overview of U.S. naval history 1775 to the present. Permanent and temporary exhibitions commemorate the Navy’s wartime heroes and battles as well as its peacetime contributions in exploration, diplomacy, navigation and humanitarian service.

The National Museum of the United States Navy celebrates a legacy of educating the public. In the tradition of its predecessors on the Washington Navy Yard beginning in 1865, the current museum features a collection that dates from 1800. The museum’s collection moved twice before Adm. Arleigh Burke established the current museum in Building 76 on the Historic Washington Navy Yard in 1963 to create an American naval history museum comparable to those in Europe. In 2011, exhibits on the Cold War opened in nearby Building 70. The National Museum of the United States Navy continues to embody Burke’s vision of sharing the Navy’s history and traditions with the world.

Exhibits cover the breath of U.S. Naval history from the American Revolution to modern days and highlight the stories of the many Sailors who have contributed to the Navy’s legacy. Visitors will find a family friendly environment with interactive exhibits designed to inspire generations.  The World War II exhibit highlights the diverse contributions of the many Navy communities who help preserve freedom.

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One of the most photographed artifacts on display, located in the Undersea Exploration exhibit, is the bathyscaphe Trieste. This vessel safely transported Navy Lt. Don Walsh and the vessel’s designer Auguste Piccard seven miles down to the deepest known spot in the ocean, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench on Jan. 23, 1960.  Long before an American walked on the moon, a Navy Sailor was sitting on the bottom of the ocean.

The Educational Department crafts STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture, and Math) based programs. The monthly Full STEAM Ahead programs provide family centric learning opportunities for elementary and middle school students.  High School teachers can request programs that complement the curriculum of their class either at the National Museum of the United States Navy or in their classroom.

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Specialized tours are available upon advance request for all ages and groups including school groups, day camps, scout groups, reunion groups, honor flights, and naval commands. Tours of the museum can also focus on the accomplishments of women and African Americans to the Navy.  Museum staff also supports community festivals, STEM fairs, and civic groups by providing activities and lectures outside the Historic Washington Navy Yard.

Lectures on various topics of Naval History occur throughout the year with events sent out in monthly emails and posted on our Facebook page. For more information about tours or to receive the monthly email of upcoming events, contact Navymuseum@navy.mil.

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The National Museum of the United States Navy, located in the Historic Washington Navy Yard in South East DC, is free and open to the public. Hours are 9am-5pm weekdays and 10am-5pm on weekends and holidays.  For more information about visiting the museum, and requirements for access, visit https://www.history.navy.mil/museums/NationalMuseum/org8-1.htm. To contact the museum with a question or set up a tour email navymuseum@navy.mil or call 202-433-4882. Follow us on Facebook and on Instagram and tag your posts and images from your visit with #NMUSN.

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