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U.S. Navy Moves Ahead With Plans for a New D.C. Museum

NHHC museum
Courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command

Published Oct 21, 2022 10:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S Navy intends to acquire land next door to the Washington Navy Yard to build a new museum as part of measures to immortalize its history and heritage.

During the celebration of the Navy’s 247th birthday, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced that the Department of the Navy has settled on the land adjust to the yard for a new National Museum of the United States Navy (NMUSN). The land would be acquired either through a land exchange or direct purchase.

With the new campus-style museum, the Navy intends to honor the service of American sailors, provide a cultural center for those who have served and are serving today, and help share the service's story with the public. 

Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) is the lead department for the new initiative and the Navy has set a target to have the museum ready in October 2025, in time for the service's 250th birthday.

The Navy has its eye on six acres of land just outside the Tingey Gate at the Navy Yard. The Department of the Navy has embarked on consultations and public involvement, as required by the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.  

“The exhibits of this new museum will create a living memorial to the U.S. Navy’s heritage of victory and valor, bringing to life the human experiences of serving at sea,” said Del Toro.

Initially a storage and shipbuilding facility, the Navy Yard is the service's oldest shore establishment and has been in operation for more than two centuries. The yard was once a heavy industrial plant, concentrating on the development, construction and testing of naval guns, before later becoming a major administrative center.  

Following World War II, its name was changed to the Naval Gun Factory, then to Naval Weapons Plant in 1959. Within a few years in 1962, the Department of Defense shifted from government-owned production facilities and the name reverted to Washington Navy Yard. Today it serves as a ceremonial and administrative center for the U.S. Navy.

The Navy Museum Development Foundation is assisting with the development, design, construction, renovation and operation of the multipurpose museum campus, a model similarly used by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army in their national museums. The U.S. Coast Guard is just starting construction on its first ever national museum, located in the service's longtime home port of New London, Connecticut.