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Winter Travel: Mariners' Museum

  My Friend Debbie
  Artillery Demonstration at the scale replica of the USS Monitor, located at The Mariners' Museum. Credit: The Mariners' Museum
     It's winter, you are low on travel funds, and you have time to investigate long overlooked places close to your home-check out the museums.

     There are at least 17 museums close to me.

     We visited The Mariners' Museum, located in Newport News, VA. The Mariners' Museum is one of the largest international maritime museums in the world. The Museum was founded June 2, 1930, by Archer M. and Anna H. Huntington. Mr. Huntington is the son of Collis P. Huntington, founder of the Newport News Shipbuilding and
Dry Dock Company and the Central Pacific Railroad.

My Friend Debbie

     Between 1998 and 2002, North Carolina, NOAA and the U.S. Navy recovered major portions of the USS Monitor. The wreck of the famed Civil War ironclad USS Monitor was located 16 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., in 240 feet of water. The Mariner's Museum is the primary repository of the Monitor's artifacts and documents.

     On March 9, 2007, The Mariners' Museum and its partners at NOAA opened the doors to the new $30 million, 63,500-square-foot USS Monitor Center. This wing is home to artifacts such as the revolving gun turret, mounted guns, steam engine and propeller. The wing also houses a major interactive exhibition entitled Ironclad Revolution, which tells the story of the USS Monitor, the CSS Virginia (Merrimack); and the men who served on both vessels.

     We walked on a full-scale replica of the USS Monitor, and experienced the drama of the Battle of Hampton Roads in a high definition theater. My Friend Debbie

     Tour the museum for a while, take a break and have lunch in the café, visit the gift shop and continue on to The Mariners' Museum Library, which is housed on the nearby campus of Christopher Newport University in the magnificent Trible Library. The Museum Library houses over 1,750,000 items, including 78,000 volumes, 600,000 photographs and negatives, one million manuscripts items, 5,000 maps and charts, and 60,000 drawings. The library is also home to the boat building archives of Chris-Craft Industries.

     If the weather permits you can walk on the five-mile Noland Trail, located within the 550-acre Mariners' Museum Park. The Park is the largest privately owned park in the country open to the public without charge. Benches are located approximately every half'mile where you can sit, relax and enjoy the views of Lake Maury. Take along a picnic basket and eat at one of the picnic areas. The park is handicap accessible.

  My Friend Debbie
  A variety of boats are on view at the International Small Craft Center located at The Mariners' Museum. Credit: The Mariners' Museum
     Okay, we did not see and experience everything, which will give us a reason to return. In addition to the permanent collection, the Museum features temporary exhibits and many special events, including the upcoming Antarctica Weekend, February 7-8. The current temporary exhibit is Building Better Ships, which tells the story of shipbuilding in the 1930s and the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company through the vibrant large-scale paintings of maritime artist Thomas C. Skinner. The exhibition was named by the Daily Press as one of Hampton Road's Top Five Art Exhibitions of 2008.

     Treat yourself and visit their Web page, www.MarinersMuseum.org

My Friend Debbie

My Friend Debbie

My Friend Debbie

Replica of the MONITOR'S cannon/p

My Friend Debbie

My Friend Debbie

On the deck of the MONITOR

My Friend Debbie

L to R: Susan Russell, Dave MacDonald, Bill Russell.

Copyright © 2008-2015 DeeDee MacDonald

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