Carcar City Museum (Cebu)

Carcar City Museum (formerly Carcar Dispensary and Puericulture Center)

Part 6 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The very first museum in South Cebu, this museum is housed in the former Carcar Puericulture Center and Dispensary, a two-storey hospital for women and children. Resembling a doll house rather than a medical institution, it was perhaps meant that way to dispel the fears of the patients.

The second floor veranda

An excellent example of American-era civic architecture in the Philippines, this ornate and gracefully designed dispensary was initiated by Mayor Mariano Mercado in 1929 and inaugurated by Ms.Flora Base Mercado, the mayor’s wife, in 1937 with Gov. Sotero Cabahug in attendance.

Historical plaque

The building was inaugurated as the Carcar City Museum on July 8, 2008, during Carcar’s first anniversary as a city.

Calado woodwork


This outstanding, beautifully restored white painted architectural landmark has a profusion of artful latticework, semicircular transoms, carved barandillas (railings) and mini-canopies and stained glass window panes. Beside the museum is a small gated park that pays homage to Don Mariano Mercado, who was responsible for many of Carcar’s beautiful landmarks.

The author at Carcar City Museum

Its galleries, in several rooms, feature objects with historical, cultural and artistic relevance such as a traditional corn milling stone, antique furniture, winning costumes used by Carcar contingents in numerous artistic performances, women’s clothing worn during that era, religious artifacts, leather cutters, kitchen utensils, journals, paintings, war weapons, medical tools, musical instruments and old news clippings about Gen. Pantaleon “Leon Kilat” Villegas.

Antique sewing machine

Farming implements

Props for Linambay (Cebuano term for komedya or moro-moro)

On the museum walls, visitors can see a chronology of events that took place in Carcar from the Pleistocene period up to the present. The terrace (terasa) is the best place to feel the cold breeze from the outside. 


Bajo de unas (double bass) used in a rondalla 


Carcar City Museum: Carcar Square, Carcar City, Cebu.  Open Mondays to Saturdays, 8 AM to 5 PM. Admission: free.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail:   Website:  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Mangrove Protection and Information Center (Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte)

Mangrove Protection & Information Center

After a lunch prepared for us by Surigao del Norte District I Cong. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas II and hosted by Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo M. Coro II at Krokodeilos, we proceeded to the nearby Mangrove Protection and Information Center (MPIC). The first of its kind in the Philippines, it was inaugurated last November 15, 2014 as part of the town’s and Metro Pacific Investments Foundation’s (with the support of the Manny V. Pangilinan group of companies) “Siargao It Up!” program (started in 2009) which promotes environmental awareness throughout the whole country.

A center for the protection and propagation of mangrove trees in the coastal estuaries, including the rehabilitation of degraded mangroves in the whole island of Siargao, it aims to let locals, tourists and guests know of the importance and benefits of mangroves in terms of biodiversity and its contribution to the safety of the coastal communities.

Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo M. Coro II (in blue shirt and shades) meeting with members of print media

To date, this program has successfully propagated around 800 hectares of new mangroves. As a result of its efforts, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has conferred on Del Carmen  the Environmental Hero Award.  The town observes its Shore It Up Week every first week of March.

A complete skeleton of a saltwater crocodile on display

Mangrove forests are sanctuaries to rare and endangered wildlife species such as the Philippine Cockatoo, the Hawksbill Turtle, the Green Sea Turtle, the Golden Crown Flying Fox, Dinagat Gymnure, the Olive Ridley Turtle and the endangered dugong. It also prevents soil erosion, protects coastline from strong winds and waves, and filters off agricultural run-off and pollution. It is also a breeding ground for different marine organisms; is a source of food, medicines and firewood; and supplies dissolved organic matter for nutrient cycle.

An array of crocodile skulls

According to Mayor Coro, Siargao has an approximately 8,600 hectares of mangrove cover, the second largest in Mindanao, and 4,259 hectares of contiguous mangrove are found in Del Carmen, the largest in the Philippines. Out of the 54 mangrove species worldwide, 44 can be found in Del Carmen, and the Crocodylus porosus, the largest of all living saltwater crocodiles, can be found in the town’s mangrove forest. The town’s vast mangrove forest has also become a major tourist destination in Siargao, with 21 boat operators doing from three to four trips per day, thus generating income for the local economy.

Display case with a collection of different sea shells

On display here are educational materials, a collection of sea shells and a complete skeleton of a saltwater crocodile as well as a number of skulls. Outside is a preserved saltwater crocodile. Measuring 14 feet and 9 inches long, and 2 feet and 8 inches wide, it was discovered floating dead, last October 27, 2016, by the mangroves in Brgy. Esperanza, 8 kms. from the town proper.

Preserved remains of a saltwater crocodile

Siargao Tourism Office: Paseo De Cabuntog, Brgy. Catangnan, Gen. Luna, Siargao Island. Mobile number: (0921) 718-2268 (Ms. Donna Grace T. Estrella – Siargao Tourism Coordinator)

Mangrove Protection and Information Center (MPIC): Poblacion, 8418 Del Carmen, Surigao Del Norte.  E-mail: Website:  Facebook:

How to Get There: Skyjet Airlines has daily, 100-min. direct flights from Manila (NAIA Terminal 4) to Siargao (Sayak Airport). ETD Manila at 6 AM (M8-421), ETA Siargao at 7:40 AM. Return flights: ET Siargao at 8:10 AM (M8-422), ETD Manila at 9:50 AM.

Skyjet Airlines: Manila Domestic Airport, Parking A, Terminal 4, NAIA Complex, Brgy. 191, Pasay City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 863-1333 and (02) 823-3366. E-mail: Website:

The USS Constitution – Old Ironsides (Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides)

After our visit to USS Constitution Museum and  the World War II Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cassin Young, Jandy and I proceeded to the highlight of our tour of the Charlestown Navy Yard – our visit to the USS Constitution. There was already a long queue of visitors waiting for the gates to open when we arrived (it opened at 3:30 PM).  To get in, we had to show valid IDs (in this case our passports).

Check out “USS Constitution Museum” and “USS Cassin Young

The ship at Dry Dock 1

The USS Constitution, a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy launched in 1797, is usually berthed at Pier 1 of the former Charlestown Navy Yard, at one end of Boston’s Freedom Trail  but, during our visit, it was in Dry Dock 1 (here since May 18, 2015) for her scheduled 2-year restoration program to restore the copper sheets on the ship’s hull and replace additional deck boards.  The lower deck was stripped of her guns.

The ship’s prow

Constitution is most noted for her actions during the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated the British warships HMS GuerriereJavaPictouCyane and Levant during four separate engagements. She earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” because the cannon fire during here encounter with the Guerriere  seemed as if they couldn’t penetrate her strong oak hull.

The author at the gangplank leading up to the ship

Constitution’s stated mission today is to promote understanding of the Navy’s role in war and peace through educational outreach, historical demonstration, and active participation in public events as part of the Naval History & Heritage Command.

A member of the ship’s crew narrating the history of the ship to visitors

As a fully commissioned U.S. Navy ship, her crew of 60 officers and sailors participate in ceremonies, educational programs, and special events while keeping her open to visitors year round and providing free tours.

Jandy beside the double steering wheel of the ship

The officers and crew are all active-duty U.S. Navy personnel, and the assignment is considered to be special duty in the U.S. Navy. Traditionally, command of the vessel is assigned to a Navy commander.

List of Commanding Officers of the USS Constitution

The Constitution, open to the public year-round, typically makes at least one “turnaround cruise” each year, during which she is towed into Boston Harbor to perform underway demonstrations, including a gun drill.  She then returns to her dock in the opposite direction to ensure that she weathers evenly. The “turnaround cruise” is open to the general public based on a “lottery draw” of interested persons. The privately run USS Constitution Museum is nearby, located in a restored shipyard building at the foot of Pier Two.

National Historic Landmark Plaque

Here are some interesting trivia regarding this historic ship:

  • It was named by Pres. George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America.
  • The Constitution was one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794and the third constructed.  Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy’s capital ships, and so Constitution and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. She was built in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts at Edmund Hartt‘s shipyard.
  • Her first duties with the newly formed U.S. Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.
  • She is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat
  • The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname of “Old Ironsides” and public adoration that has repeatedly saved her from scrapping.
  • Though the Constitution was rated as a 44-gun frigate, she often carried more than 50 guns at a time.
  • During the War of 1812, Constitution’s battery of guns typically consisted of thirty 24-pounder (11 kgs.) cannons, with 15 on each side of the gun deck. A total of 22 cannons were deployed on the spar deck, 11 per side, each a 32-pounder (15 kgs.) carronade. Four chase guns were also positioned, two each at the stern and bow.
  • Constitution’s hull was built 530 mm. (21 in.) thick and her length between perpendiculars was 53 m. (175 ft.), with a 62 m. (204 ft.) length overall and a width of 13.26 m. (43 ft. 6 in.).
  • Her six-sail battle configuration consisted of jibs, topsails and driver.
  • In total, 24 hectares (60 acres) of trees, primarily pine and oak (including southern live oak which was cut from Gascoigne Bluff and milled near  Simons, Georgia) were needed for her construction.
  • Many times, souvenirs were made from her old planking. Isaac Hull ordered walking canes, picture frames and even a phaeton that was presented to Pres. Andrew Jackson. Funds for her 1927-1931 restoration were also raised from memorabilia made of her discarded planking.
  • Busts, depicting Isaac Hull, William Bainbridge and Charles Stewart, were added to her stern, remaining in place for the next 40 years. A figurehead of President Andrew Jackson witht a top hat was also installed under the bowsprit, a subject of much controversy due to Jackson’s political unpopularity in Boston at the time. Another likeness of Jackson, this time with a more Napoleonic pose, was installed in 1847.
  • Most of the required funds for her 1927-1931 restoration were raised privately.  In 1924, the estimated cost of her repair was US$400,000 but it reached over US$745,000 after costs of materials were realized. The first effort, sponsored by the national Elks Lodge, raised US$148,000 from pennies donated by schoolchildren. In September 1926, Wilbur Secretary of the Navy Curtis D. Wilbur began to sell copies of a painting of Constitution at 50 cents per copy. The silent film Old Ironsides, portraying Constitution during the First Barbary War, premiered in December 1926, helped spur more contributions to her restoration fund. Memorabilia made of her discarded planking and metal also raised funds. More than US$600,000 was eventually raised after expenses, still short of the required amount. To complete the restoration, Congress approved up to US$300,000. The final cost of the restoration was US$946,000.
  • Materials for its restoration, especially the live oak needed, were difficult to find. Lt. John A. Lord, selected to oversee the 1927-1931 reconstruction project, uncovered a long-forgotten stash of some 1,500 short tons (1,400 t) of live oak (cut sometime in the 1850s for a ship building program that never began) at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. During her 1973-1974 restoration, large quantities of red oak, added in the 1950s as an experiment to see if it would last better than the live oak, were removed and replaced (it had mostly rotted away by 1970). “Constitution Grove,” a 100 sq. km. (25,000-acre) tract of land located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indiana dedicated by Cmdr. Tyrone G. Martin in May 1976, now supplies the majority of the white oak required for repair work. For the 1995 restoration, live oak trees felled by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 were also donated by the city of Charleston, South Carolina.  The International Paper Company also donated live oak from its own property.
  • For the 3-year tour of the country in the 1930s, many amenities were installed to prepare her including water piping throughout, modern toilet and shower facilities, electric lighting to make the interior visible for visitors, and several peloruses for ease of navigation. The tour began with much celebration and a 21-gun salute, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Due to the schedule of visits on her itinerary (90 port cities along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts), she was towed by the minesweeper Grebe and she went as far north as Bar Harbor, Maine, south and into the Gulf of Mexico then through the Panama Canal Zone, and north again to Bellingham, Washington on the Pacific Coast.
  • Since her 1927–1931 restoration, all of the guns aboard Constitution are replicas. Most were cast in 1930, but two carronades on the spar deck were cast in 1983. In order to restore the capability of firing ceremonial salutes, a modern 40 mm. (1.6 in.) saluting gun was hidden inside the forward long gun on each side during her 1973–1976 restoration.
  • During the 1976 Bicentennial, over 900,000 visitors toured “Old Ironsides.”
  • The Naval History and Heritage Command Detachment Boston, responsible for planning and performing her maintenance, repair, and restoration, keeping her as close as possible to her 1812 configuration, estimates that approximately 10–15%of the timber in Constitution contains original material installed during her initial construction period in the years 1795–1797.
  • In 2003, the special effects crew from the production of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World spent several days using Constitution as a computer model, using stem-to-stern digital image scans of “Old Ironsides,”for the fictional French frigate Acheron.

The lower deck of the ship

Here’s the historical timeline of the Constitution:

  • On November 1, 1794, the Constitution’s keel is laid down at Edmund Hartt‘s shipyard in Boston, Massachusetts under the supervision of Capt. Samuel Nicholson and master shipwright George Claghorn
  • On September 20, 1797, the Constitution is launched in a ceremony attended by Pres. John Adams and Massachusetts Gov. Increase Sumner.
  • On October 21, 1797, after a month of rebuilding the ways, the Constitution finally slips into Boston Harbor, with Capt. James Sever breaking a bottle of Madeira wine on her bowsprit.
  • On the evening of July 22, 1798, she puts to sea, with orders to patrol the Eastern seaboard between New Hampshire and New York.
  • On September 8, 1798, off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, the Constitution intercepts the Niger, a 24-gun ship sailing with a French crew, en route from Jamaica to Philadelphia, claiming to have been under the orders of Great Britain. Nicholson has the crewmen imprisoned, placing a prize crew aboard Niger and bringing her into Norfolk, Virginia. The ship and her crew are released to continue their voyage and the American government pays a restitution of $11,000 to Great Britain.
  • On December 29, 1798, after repairs to her bowsprit which was severely damaged in a gale, the Constitution departs Boston.
  • On January 15, 1799, the Constitution intercepts the Spencer, an English merchantman which had been taken prize by the French frigate L’Insurgente a few days prior. Though technically a French ship operated by a French prize crew, Nicholson releases the Spencer and her crew the next morning.
  • On March 1, 1799, the Constitution encounters HMS Santa Margarita whose captain was an acquaintance of Nicholson. The two agree to a sailing duel and, after 11 hours of sailing, Santa Margarita lowers her sails and admits defeat, paying off the bet with a cask of wine to Nicholson.
  • On March 27, 1799, the Constitution manages to recapture the American sloop Neutrality and, a few days later, the French ship Carteret.
  • On May 14, 1799, she returns to Boston and Nicholson was relieved of command.
  • On July 23, 1799, after repairs and resupply are completed, the Constitution departs Boston, now under the command of Capt. Silas Talbot, for Saint-Domingue in the West Indies, via Norfolk, on a mission to interrupt French shipping.
  • On September 15, 1799, she takes the Amelia from a French prize crew and Talbot sends the ship back to New York City with an American prize crew.
  • On October 15, 1799, the Constitution arrives at Saint-Domingue and rendezvous with BostonGeneral Greene and Norfolk.
  • On July 13, 1800, she puts into Cap Français for repairs of her mainmast.
  • On July 23, 1800, the Constitution is relieved of duty by the Constellation.
  • On August 24, 1800, after the Constitution escorts 12 merchantmen to Philadelphia, she puts in at Boston where she receives new masts, sails and rigging.
  • On December 17, 1800, the Constitution again sails for the West Indies as squadron flagship, rendezvousing with CongressAdamsAugustaRichmond and Trumbull.
  • On July 2, 1802, she is placed in ordinary.
  • On May 13, 1803, during the Quasi-War with the Barbary States, Capt. Edward Preble recommissions Constitution as his flagship and makes preparations to command a new squadron for a blockade attempt.
  • On August 14, 1803, the Constitution departs Boston.
  • On September 6, 1803, she almost has a near encounter with the HMS Maidstone, a 32-gun frigate, near the Rock of Gibraltar.
  • On September 12, 1803, the Constitution arrives at Gibraltar where Preble waits for the other ships of the squadron.
  • On October 3, 1803, the Constitution and Nautilus departs Gibraltar
  • On October 4, 1803, they arrive at TangiersAdams and New York arrives the next day. With four American warships in his harbor, the Sultan was glad to arrange the transfer of ships between the two nations
  • On October 14, 1803, Preble departs with his squadron, heading back to Gibraltar.
  • On the morning of August 3, 1804, the ConstitutionArgusEnterpriseScourgeSyren, six gunboats, and two bomb ketches arrive and immediately begin operations for the attack on Tripoli. In the harbor, Constitution and her squadron severely damage or destroy, in a series of attacks over the coming month, the 22 Tripoline gunboats that meet them, taking their crews prisoner. Constitution primarily provided gunfire support, bombarding the shore batteries of Tripoli.
  • On August 11, 1804, the Constitution is ordered to Malta for repairs and, while en route, captures two Greek vessels attempting to deliver wheat into Tripoli.
  • On August 12, 1804, a collision with the President, attributed to a sudden change in wind direction, severely damages the ship’s bow, stern and the figurehead of Hercules.
  • On November 9, 1804, while she underwent repairs and resupply in Malta, Capt. John Rodgers assumes command of Constitution.
  • On April 5, 1805, she resumes the blockade of Tripoli, capturing a Tripoline xebec, along with two prizes that the xebec had captured.
  • On June 3, 1805, a peace treaty with Tripoli was signed  on board the Constitution
  • On July 30, 1805, she arrives in Tunis.
  • On August 14, 1805, after a a short-term blockade of the harbor by the Constitution, CongressConstellationEnterpriseEssexFranklinHornetJohn AdamsNautilusSyren and eight gunboats, a peace treaty was signed.
  • On May 29, 1806, after performing routine patrols and observing the French and Royal Navy operations of the Napoleonic Wars, Rodgers turns over the command of the squadron and Constitution to Capt. Hugh G. Campbell.
  • On May 15, 1807, James Barron sails the Chesapeake out of Norfolk to replace Constitution as the flagship of the Mediterranean squadron. However, he encounters HMS Leopard, resulting in the Chesapeake–Leopard Affair and delaying the relief of Constitution.
  • On September 8, 1807, Campbell and the squadron are ordered home and set sail for Boston
  • On October 14, 1807, the squadron arrives in Boston.
  • On December 1807, the Constitution is recommissioned, with Capt. John Rodgers again taking command to oversee a major refitting and overhaul at a cost just under $100,000.
  • On June 1810, Isaac Hull takes command.
  • On August 5, 1811, Hull departs for France, transporting the new Ambassador Joel Barlow and his family, arriving on September 1.
  • On February 18, 1812, they arrive back to the United States.
  • On July 12, 1812, after war is declared with Britain on June 18, Hull put to sea attempting to join the five ships of a squadron under the command of Rodgers in the President.
  • On July 17, 1812, off Egg Harbor, New Jersey, Hull sights 5 ships (HMS AeolusAfricaBelvideraGuerriere and Shannon) of a British squadron out of Halifax. They sight the Constitution and give chase.
  • On July 19, 1812, after a 57-hour chase, the Constitution finally outruns the squadron, pumping overboard 2,300 US gal (8.7 kl) of drinking water and pulled far enough ahead of the British that they abandoned the pursuit.
  • On July 27, 1812, Constitution arrives in Boston and remains there just long enough to replenish her supplies.
  • On August 2, 1812, to avoid being blockaded in port, Hull sails without orders, heading on a northeast route towards the British shipping lanes near Halifax and the Gulf of Saint LawrenceConstitution captures 3 British merchantmen, which Hull burns rather than risk taking them back to an American port.
  • On August 16, 1812, he sails in pursuit of a British frigate 190 kms. (120 mi.) to the south.
  • On August 19, 1812, he sights the frigate HMS Guerriere and, after a furious battle, the Constitution’s sailing ability and heavier broadsides turned the British frigate into an unmanageable hulk, with close to a third of her crew wounded or killed, while Constitution remained largely intact as many of the British shots had rebounded harmlessly off its hull. The British surrendered. The Guerriere was so badly damaged that she was not worth towing to port and, the next morning, Hull ordered her to be burned after transferring the British prisoners onto Constitution.
  • On August 30, 1812, the Constitution arrives back in Boston where Hull and his crew find that news of their victory has spread fast, and they are hailed as heroes.
  • On September 8, 1812, William Bainbridge takes command of the Constitution and prepares her for another mission in British shipping lanes near Brazil
  • On October 27, 1812, she sets sail with the Hornet
  • On December 13, 1812, they arrive near São Salvador, sighting HMS Bonne Citoyenne in the harbor. The captain of Bonne Citoyenne, reportedly carrying $1,600,000 in specie to England, refuses to leave the neutral harbor lest he lose his cargo. Constitution sails offshore in search of prizes, leaving Hornet to await the departure of Bonne Citoyenne.
  • On December 29, 1812, she meets with HMS Java, under Capt. Henry Lambert and, after continuously raking her with broadsides, Java lays in shambles, an unmanageable wreck with a badly wounded crew, and she surrenders. Java is far too damaged to retain as a prize and Bainbridge orders her burned. Bainbridge is wounded twice during the battle.
  • On January 1, 1813, Constitution returns to São Salvador to disembark the prisoners of Java, where she meets with Hornet and her two British prizes.
  • On January 5, 1813, Bainbridge orders Constitution to sail for Boston for extensive repairs.
  • On February 15, 1813, the Constitution arrives in Boston to even greater celebrations than Hull had received a few months earlier.
  • On July 18, 1813, Charles Stewart takes command of the ship, struggling to complete the construction and recruitment of a new crew.
  • On December 31, 1813, she finally makes sail, setting course for the West Indies to harass British shipping.
  • By late March 1814, she captures 5 merchant ships and the 14-gun HMS Pictou. She also pursues HMS Columbine and HMS Pique but, after realizing that she is an American frigate, both ships escape.
  • On March 27, 1814, her mainmast splits off the coast of Bermuda requiring immediate repair.
  • On April 3, 1814, while enroute to Boston, British ships HMS Junon and Tenedos  pursue her but, after drinking water, food and spirits were cast overboard to lighten her load and gain speed, she makes her way into Marblehead, Massachusetts where the British call off the pursuit. Two weeks later, Constitution makes her way into Boston harbor where she remains blockaded in port until mid-December.
  • On the afternoon of December 18, 1814, the Constitution escapes from Boston Harbor and again sets course for Bermuda. Capt. George Collier gathers a squadron consisting of the 50-gun HMS Leander, Newcastle and Acasta and sets off in pursuit, but he was unable to overtake her.
  • On December 24, 1814, the Constitution intercepts the merchantman Lord Nelson and places a prize crew on board.
  • On February 8, 1815, Constitution is cruising off Cape Finisterre when Stewart learns that the Treaty of Ghent has been signed.
  • On February 16, 1815, realizing that a state of war still exists until the treaty is ratified, the Constitution captures the British merchantman Susanna (her cargo of animal hides were valued at $75,000).
  • On February 20, 1815, the Constitution sights the small British ships Cyane and Levant sailing in company and gives chase, capturing both of them.
  • On March 10, 1815, the trio arrives at Porto Praya at the Cape Verde Islands.
  • On the morning of March 11, 1815, Collier’s squadron was spotted on a course for the harbor, and Stewart orders all ships to sail immediately. Cyane is able to elude the squadron and make sail for America, where she arrives on April 10, but Levant is overtaken and recaptured. While Collier’s squadron was distracted with Levant, the Constitution makes its escape.
  • On April 2, 1815, Constitution puts into Maranhão to offload her British prisoners and replenish her drinking water.
  • On April 28, 1815, after receiving verification of Treaty of Ghent at San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Constitution sets course for New York
  • On May 15, 1815, the Constitution arrives in New York to large celebrations.
  • In January 1816, Constitution is moved to Boston and placed in ordinary, sitting out the Second Barbary War.
  • In April 1820, Isaac Hull, now Charlestown Navy Yard’s commandant, directs a refitting of Constitution to prepare her for duty with the Mediterranean Squadron.
  • On May 13, 1821, the Constitution, now under Jacob Jones, departs on a three-year uneventful tour of duty in the Mediterranean, sailing in company with Ontario and Nonsuch.
  • On May 31, 1824, Constitution arrives in Boston and Jones is relieved of command, replaced by Thomas Macdonough.
  • On October 29, 1824, the Constitution sails for the Mediterranean under the direction of John Rodgers in North Carolina.
  • During December and into January 1826, Constitution puts in for repairs.
  • On February 21, 1826, Daniel Todd Patterson assumes command after Macdonough resigns his command for health reasons on October 9, 1825.
  • By August 1826, she puts into Port Mahon, suffering decay of her spar deck, and she remains there until temporary repairs are completed in March 1827.
  • On July 4, 1828 Constitution returned to Boston and was placed in reserve.
  • On September 14, 1830, an article appeared in the Boston Advertiser which erroneously claims that the Navy intended to scrap Constitution.
  • On September 16, 1830, Oliver Wendell Holmes‘ poem “Old Ironsides” is published in the same paper and later all over the country, igniting public indignation and inciting efforts to save “Old Ironsides” from the scrap yard.
  • After Secretary Branch approves the repair cost of over $157,000, and Constitution begins a leisurely repair period while awaiting completion of the dry dock, then under construction at the yard.
  • On June 24, 1833, Constitution enters dry dock and Capt. Jesse Elliott, the new commander of the Navy yard, oversees her reconstruction. Constitution had 760 mm. (30 in.) of hogin her keel and she remains in dry dock until June 21, 1834.
  • In March 1835, the Constitution, with Elliot in command, gets underway to New York
  • On March 16, 1835, Constitution sets a course for France to deliver Edward Livingston to his post as Minister.
  • On April 10, 1835, she arrives in France
  • On May 16, 1835, Constitution begins the return voyage back to Boston
  • On June 23, 1835, she arrives back in Boston
  • On August 19, 1835, Constitution sails again to take her station as flagship in the Mediterranean
  • On September 19, 1835, she arrives at Port Mahon to begin her uneventful duty over the next two years as she and United States make routine patrols and diplomatic visits.
  • From April 1837 into February 1838, Elliot collects various ancient artifacts to carry back to America.
  • On July 31, 1835, Constitution arrives in Norfolk.
  • On March 1, 1839, as flagship of the Pacific Squadron under the command of Capt. Daniel Turner, she begins her next voyage with the duty of patrolling the western coast of South America, visiting Valparaíso, Callao, Paita and Puna.
  • On August 29, 1841, on her return voyage, Emperor Pedro II of Brazil visits her at Rio de Janeiro.
  • On October 31, 1841, she returns to Norfolk.
  • On June 22, 1842 she is recommissioned, under the command of Foxhall Alexander Parker, for duty with the Home Squadron. After spending months in port she puts to sea for 3 weeks during December, then is again put in ordinary.
  • In late 1843, she is moored at Norfolk, serving as a receiving ship.
  • On November 6, 1843, Capt. John Percival makes necessary repairs and upgrades on the ship at a cost of $10,000 and after several months of labor.
  • On May 29, 1844, Constitution gets underway carrying Ambassador to Brazil Henry A. Wise and his family
  • On August 2, 1844, after making two port visits along the way, she arrives at Rio de Janeiro.
  • On September 8, 1844, Constitution sails again, making port calls at Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zanzibar
  • On January 1, 1845, she arrives in Sumatra where many of her crew begin to suffer from dysentery and fevers, causing several deaths, which leads Percival to set course for Singapore
  • On February 8, 1845, Constitution arrives in Singapore where Commodore Henry Ducie Chads (a lieutenant in the Java when she surrendered to William Bainbridge 33 years earlier) of the HMS Cambrian pays a visit to Constitution, offering what medical assistance his squadron could provide.
  • On May 10, 1845, after leaving Singapore, Constitution arrives in Turon, Cochinchina (present day Da Nang, Vietnam).
  • On May 26, 1845, after failing to obtain the release of French missionary Dominique Lefèbvre who was being held captive under sentence of death, the Constitution departs.
  • On June 20, 1845, she arrives in Canton, China and spends the next six weeks there, with Percival making shore and diplomatic visits.
  • On September 18, 1845, she reaches Manila, spending a week there preparing to enter the Pacific Ocean.
  • On September 28, 1845, she sails for the Hawaiian Islands
  • On November 16, 1845, the Constitution arrives in Honolulu where she finds Commodore John D. Sloat and his flagship Savannah there
  • On January 13, 1846, after provisioning for six months, the Constitution arrives in Mazatlán, Mexico as the United States was preparing for war after the Texas annexation.
  • On April 22, 1846, after sitting at anchor for more than 3 months, she sails for home.
  • On July 4, 1846, she rounds Cape Horn. Upon arrival at Rio de Janeiro, the ship’s party learns that the Mexican War had begun on May13, soon after their departure from Mazatlán.
  • On September 27, 1846, she arrives in Boston
  • On October 5, 1846, the Constitution is mothballed.
  • In 1847, the Constitution begins refitting for duty with the Mediterranean Squadron.
  • On December 9, 1848, under Capt. John Gwinn, the Constitution departs.
  • On January 19, 1849, she arrives in Tripoli.
  • On August 1, 1849, at Gaeta,  she receives King Ferdinand II and Pope Pius IX on board, giving them a 21-gun salute, the first time that a Pope set foot on American territory or its equivalent.
  • On September 1, 1849, Capt. Gwinn dies of chronic gastritis at Palermo and, on September 9, is buried near Lazaretto.
  • On September 18, 1849, Capt. Thomas Conover assumes command  and resumes routine patrolling for the rest of the tour,
  • On December 1, 1850, she heads home and is involved in a severe collision with the English brig Confidence, cutting her in half and sinking her with the loss of her captain. The surviving crew members are carried back to America
  • On January 1851, the Constitution is again put back in ordinary, this time at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
  • On December 22, 1852, the Constitution is recommissioned under the command of John Rudd.
  • On March 2, 1853, she departs the yard on a leisurely sail towards Africa, carrying Commodore Isaac Mayo for duty with the African Squadron
  • On June 18, 1853, she arrives in Africa with Mayo making a diplomatic visit in Liberia to arrange a treaty between the Gbarbo and the Grebo tribes, resorting to firing cannons into the village of the Gbarbo in order to get them to agree to the treaty.
  • On November 3, 1853, near Angola, the Constitution takes the American ship H. N. Gambrill (the Constitution’s final capture), which was involved in the slave trade, as a prize.
  • On March 31, 1855, she sails for home but is diverted to Havana, Cuba
  • On March 16, 1855, she arrives in Havana
  • On March 24, 1855, she departs Havana for Portsmouth Navy Yard
  • On June 14, 1855, she is decommissioned, ending her last duty on the front lines.
  • In 1857, Constitution is moved to dry dock at the Portsmouth Navy Yard for conversion into a training ship. Classrooms are added on her spar and gun decks and her armament is reduced to only 16 guns. Her rating was changed to a “2nd rate ship.”
  • On August 1, 1860, she is recommissioned and moves from Portsmouth to the US Naval Academy.
  • In April 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, Constitution is ordered to relocate farther north after threats are made against her by Confederate sympathizers. Several companies of Massachusetts volunteer soldiers are stationed aboard for her protection.
  • On April 29, 1861, she arrives in New York City after being towed there by R. R. Cuyler. She was subsequently relocated, along with the Naval Academy, to Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island for the duration of the war.
  • On August 1865, Constitution, along with the rest of the Naval Academy, moves back to Annapolis. Once settled in at the Academy, a series of upgrades are installed that includes steam pipes and radiators to supply heat from shore, along with gas lighting.
  • From June to August each year, she would depart with midshipmen for their summer training cruise and then return to operate for the rest of the year as a classroom.
  • In June 1867, her last known plank owner William Bryant dies in Maine.
  • On November 1867, George Dewey assumes command and serves as her commanding officer until 1870.
  • In 1871, her condition had deteriorated to the point where she is retired as a training ship
  • On September 26, 1871, after being towed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, she is again placed in ordinary.
  • Beginning in 1873, Constitution is overhauled in order to participate in the centennial celebrations of the United States. Work begins slowly and is intermittently delayed by the transition of the Philadelphia Navy Yard to League Island.
  • By late 1875, the Navy opens bids for an outside contractor to complete the work
  • In May 1876, Constitution is moved to Wood, Dialogue, and Company  where a coal bin and a small boiler for heat were installed. At this time The Andrew Jackson figurehead is removed and given to the Naval Academy Museum where it remains today.
  • During the rest of 1876, her construction drags on until the centennial celebrations had long passed, and the Navy decided that she would be used as a training and school ship for apprentices.
  • On January 9, 1878, Oscar C. Badger takes command to prepare her for a voyage to the Paris Exposition of 1878, transporting artwork and industrial displays to France. Three railroad cars are lashed to her spar deck and all but two cannons are removed.
  • On March 4, 1878, she departs for France. While docking at Le Havre, she collides with Ville de Paris, resulting in her entering dry dock for repairs and remaining in France for the rest of 1878.
  • On January 16, 1878, she gets underway for the United States
  • On January 17, 1878, poor navigation runs her aground near Bollard Head. She is towed into the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, Hampshire, England, where only minor damage is found and repaired.
  • On February 13, 1878, during heavy storms, her rudder is damaged, resulting in a total loss of steering control with the rudder smashing into the hull at random. To secure it, 3 crewmen go over the stern on ropes and boatswain’s chairs.
  • The morning of February 14, 1878, they rig a temporary steering system and Badger sets a course for the nearest port
  • On February 18, 1878, she arrived in Lisbon where slow dock services delay her departure.
  • On April 11, 1878, she departs Lisbon
  • On May 24, 1878, she arrives in the United State where Constitution returns to her previous duties of training apprentice boys. Over the next two years, she continues her training cruises.
  • In 1881, after it soon became apparent that her overhaul in 1876 had been of poor quality, Constitution was determined to be unfit for service and, as funds were lacking for another overhaul, she was decommissioned, ending her days as an active-duty naval ship. She is moved to the Portsmouth Navy Yard and used as a receiving ship. There, she had a housing structure built over her spar deck, and her condition continued to deteriorate, with only a minimal amount of maintenance performed to keep her afloat.
  • In 1896, aware of her condition, Massachusetts Congressman John F. Fitzgerald proposes to Congress that funds be appropriated to restore her enough to return to Boston.
  • On September 21, 1897, she arrives, under tow, at the Charlestown Navy Yard and, after her centennial celebrations in October, she lays there with an uncertain future.
  • In 1900, Congress authorizes restoration of Constitution but does not appropriate any funds for the project.
  • In 1903, the Massachusetts Historical Society‘s president Charles Francis Adams requests Congress that Constitution be rehabilitated and placed back into active service.
  • In 1905, after Secretary of the Navy Charles Joseph Bonaparte suggests that Constitution be towed out to sea and used as target practice, after which she would be allowed to sink, Moses H. Gulesian, a businessman from Worcester, Massachusetts, reads about this in a Boston newspaper and offers to purchase her for US$10,000. The State Department refuses, but Gulesian initiates a public campaign which begins from Boston and ultimately “spilled all over the country.”
  • In 1906, a storm of protest from the public prompts Congress to authorize US$100,000 for the ship’s restoration. First to be removed was the barracks structure on her spar deck, but the limited amount of funds allowed just a partial restoration.
  • By 1907, Constitution begins to serve as a museum ship, with tours offered to the public.
  • On December 1, 1917, she is renamed Old Constitution to free her name for a planned, new Lexington-class battle cruiser.
  • On July 24, 1925, Old Constitution was granted the return of her name after construction of the lead ship of the class the name Constitution was originally destined for got canceled in 1923 due to the Washington Naval Treaty and the incomplete hull was sold for scrap.
  • On February 19, 1924, inspection of her condition by the Board of Inspection and Survey, ordered by Adm. Edward Walter Eberle, Chief of Naval Operations, found her in grave condition.
  • On June 16, 1927, Constitution enters dry dock with a crowd of 10,000 observers.
  • On March 15, 1930, she emerges from dry dock with approximately 85% of the ship “renewed” (i.e. replaced) to make her seaworthy.
  • On July 1, 1931, Constitution is recommissioned under the command of Louis J. Gulliver with a crew of 60 officers and sailors, 15 Marines, and a pet monkey named Rosie that was their mascot.
  • On May 1934, after more than 4.6 million people visited her during the 3-year tour, Constitution returns to her home port of Boston, serving as a museum ship and receiving 100,000 visitors per year.
  • On September 21, 1938, during the New England Hurricane, Constitution breaks loose from her dock and is blown into Boston Harbor where she collides with the destroyer Ralph Talbot. She only suffers minor damage.
  • In 1940, at the request of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt, USS Constellation  and  Constitution  were recommissioned.
  • In early 1941, Constitution is assigned the hull classification symbol IX-21 and begins to serve as a brig for officers awaiting court-martial.
  • In 1947, The United States Postal Service issues a stamp commemorating Constitution
  • In the 1950s, reliable heating for the small maintenance crew who were berthed on the ship was upgraded to a forced-air system and a sprinkler system was added to protect her from fire.
  • In 1954, an Act of Congress makes the Secretary of the Navy responsible for her upkeep.
  • In 1960, Constitution is designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
  • On October 15, 1966, the Constitution is included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)
  • In 1972, funds were approved for her restoration
  • In April 1973, she enters dry dock remaining until April 1974.
  • In August 1974, as preparations begin for the upcoming United States Bicentennial celebrations. Cmdr. Tyrone G. Martin, who sets the precedent that all construction work on Constitution was to be aimed towards maintaining her to the 1812 configuration for which she is most noted, becomes her captain.
  • In September 1975, her hull classification of IX-21 was officially canceled.
  • On April 8, 1976, the privately run USS Constitution Museum is opened
  • On July 10, 1976, Constitution leads the parade of tall ships up Boston Harbor for Operation Sail, firing her guns at one-minute intervals for the first time in approximately 100 years.
  • On July 11, 1976, she renders a 21-gun salute to Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia, as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived for a state visit. The royal couple, with Cmdr. Martin and J. William Middendorf (Secretary of the Navy), were piped aboard, privately touring the ship for approximately 30 minutes. Upon their departure, the crew of Constitution rendered three cheers for the Queen.
  • In 1992, Constitution enters dry dock for an inspection and minor repair period, her most comprehensive structural restoration and repair since she was launched in 1797.
  • In 1995, after a US$12 million restoration, she emerges from dry dock.
  • On July 20, 1995, Constitutionwas towed from her usual berth in Boston to an overnight mooring in Marblehead, Massachusetts. En route, she made her first sail in 116 years at a recorded 6 knots (11 kms./hr.; 6.9 mph).
  • On July 21, 1995, she is towed 5 nautical miles (9.3 kms.; 5.8 mi) offshore, where the tow line is dropped and Cmdr. Beck orders 6 sails set (jibs, topsails, and spanker). She then sails for 40 minutes on a south-south-east course with true wind speeds of about 12 knots (22 kms./hr.; 14 mph), attaining a top recorded speed of 4 knots (7.4 kms./hrs.; 4.6 mph). While she is under sail, the guided missile destroyer Ramage and frigate Halyburton, her modern US naval combatant escorts, render passing honors to “Old Ironsides” and she is overflown by the Blue Angels, the US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. Inbound to her permanent berth at Charlestown, off Fort Independence in Boston Harbor, she is rendered a 21-gun salute to the nation.
  • In November 2007, Lt.-Cmdr. John Scivier of the Royal Navy, commanding officer of HMS Victory, paid a visit to Constitution, touring the local facilities with Cmdr. William A. Bullard III. They discussed arranging an exchange program between the two ships.
  • In November 2010, Constitution emerges from a three-year repair period.
  • On August 19, 2012, the anniversary of her victory over Guerriere, the crew of Constitution, under Cmdr. Matt Bonner (Constitution’s 72nd commanding officer), sails Constitution under her own power.
  • On May 18, 2015, the ship enters Dry Dock 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard  to begin a scheduled 2-year restoration program restore the copper sheets on the ship’s hull and replace additional deck boards.  The Department of the Navy provided the US$12–15 million expected cost.
  • In August 2015, Cmdr. Robert S. Gerosa Jr. (her 74th and current commanding officer) assumes command of Constitution.
  • On July 23, 2017, after the restoration was complete, she was returned to the water.

The Captain’s Cabin

Here are the general characteristics of the Constitution:

  • Tonnage: 1,576
  • Displacement: 2,200 tons
  • Length: 93 m. (304 ft.), bowsprit to spanker; 63 m. (207 ft.), billet head to taffrail; 53 m. (175 ft.) at waterline
  • Beam: 26 m. (43 ft. 6 in.)
  • Height: 60 m. (198 ft.), foremast; 67 m. (220 ft.), mainmast; 52.6 m. (172.5 ft.), mizzenmast.
  • Draft: 6.4 m. (21 ft.), forward; 7.0 m. (23 ft.), aft
  • Depth of Hold: 4.34 m. (14 ft. 3 in.)
  • Decks: OrlopBerthGunSpar
  • Propulsion: Sail (three masts, ship rig)
  • Sail plan: 3,968 m2 (42,710 sq. ft.) on three masts
  • Speed: 24 kms./hr. (13 knots, 15 mph)
  • Boats and landing: 1 × 11 m. (36 ft.) longboat, 2 × 9.1 m. (30 ft.) cutters
  • Craft carried: 2 × 8.5 m. (28 ft.) whaleboats, 1 × 8.5 m. (28 ft.) gig, 1 × 6.7 m. (22 ft.) jolly boat, 1 × 4.3 m. (14 ft.) punt
  • Complement: 450 including 55 Marines and 30 boys (1797)
  • Armament: 30 × 24-pounder(11 kgs.) long gun, 20 × 32-pounder (15 kgs.) carronade, 2 × 24-pounder (11 kgs.) bow chasers[2]

The author emerging from the lower deck

USS Constitution: Building 5, Charlestown Navy Yard,BostonMassachusetts 02129, USA.  Tel: +1 617-799-8198. Open Wednesdays to Sundays, 10AM – 4PM. The ship is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  Admission: free. Website: Note that all guests aged 18 and older must show a state-issued photo ID (like a driver’s license or passport) at security to board the ship. Guests under age 18 do not require an ID.

How to Get There: The GPS address is 1 Constitution Road, Charlestown. You can drive and park in the Nautica Parking Garage across from the Naval Yard Visitor Center or take the Green Line (to North Station) or Orange Line (to Bunker Hill Community College). MBTA Water Shuttle Route F4 (Long Wharf, Boston to Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown)

USS Cassin Young (Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

The author in front of the USS Cassin Young

The USS Cassin Young (DD-793), a Fletcher-class destroyer of the U.S. Navy, is preserved today as a memorial ship, berthed at Boston Navy Yard in Massachusetts, across from the old warship USS Constitution. Visiting this ship seemed like an afterthought before or after seeing the USS Constitution and this ship doesn’t have the historical weight “Old Ironsides.” Still, it had a storied World War II history and it was fun to walk around the well-maintained US Navy destroyer as they have lots of rooms open on the main deck to look in or walk around in. Cassin Young served in World War II (participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the Battle of Okinawa), was decommissioned, but was reactivated during the Korean War and continued in active service until 1960.

Check out “USS Constitution – Old Ironsides

Gangplank leading to the ship’s top deck

Here are some interesting trivia regarding the ship:

National Historic Landmark Plaque

Here’s the historical timeline of the ship:

  • On March 18 1943, the keel of the Cassin Young was laid down byBethlehem SteelSan Pedro, California.
  • On September 12, 1943, the Cassin Young was launched.
  • Sponsored by Mrs. Eleanor Young (widow of her namesake); she was commissioned on December 31, 1943 with Commander T. Schrieber in command.
  • On March 19, 1944, Cassin Young arrived at Pearl Harbor to complete her training before sailing on to Manus, where she joined the massive Fast Carrier Task Force (then called TF 58, at other times called TF 38, depending on whether the overall organization was called 5th Fleet or 3rd Fleet).
  • On April, 28, 1944, TF 58 sortied for air attacks on Japanese strongholds at TrukWoleaiSatawan and Ponape in the Caroline Islands, during which Cassin Young operated as a picket ship, assigned to warn her group of possible enemy counterattack. She returned to Majuro, and then Pearl Harbor for further training.
  • On June 11, 1944, Cassin Young reported to Eniwetok to join the screen of escort carriers assigned to covering duty in the invasion of Saipan four days later. In addition to radar picket and screening duty, she was also called upon for inshore fire support. As the battle for Saipan raged ashore, escort carriers of Cassin Young‘s group launched attacks on the island, as well as sorties to neutralize enemy air fields on TinianRota, and Guam. Similar operations supporting the subsequent assaults on Tinian and Guam claimed the services of Cassin Young.
  • On August, 13, 1944, she returned to Eniwetok to replenish.
  • On August 29, 1944, Cassin Young guards the carriers of Task Group 38.3, which included several aircraft carriers, as strikes were flown from their decks to hit targets on PalauMindanao, and Luzon in support of the assault on the Palaus, stepping-stone to the Philippines.
  • On October 2, 1944, she returns to Ulithi, Caroline Islands
  • On October 6, 1944, Cassin Young sails with the same force on duty in the accelerated schedule for the Philippines assault. First on the schedule were air strikes on Okinawa, Luzon, and Formosa.
  • From October 10 to 13, 1944, during the furious Formosa Air Battle, the Japanese tried to destroy the carrier strength of the imposing TF 38.
  • On October, 14, 1944, the cruiser Reno was struck by a Kamikaze, wounding five of Cassin Young‘s men with machine gun fire. During this attack, Cassin Young aided in shooting down several aircraft.
  • On October 18, 1944, TF 38 took position east of Luzon to launch strikes immobilizing enemy air fields there in preparation for the assault on Leyte two days later.
  • On October 23, 1944, after standing by to render support if called upon during the initial landings, Cassin Young‘s group began to search for the enemy forces known to be moving toward Leyte Gulf
  • On October, 24, 1944,during the most vigorous and successful air attack mounted by the Japanese during the Leyte operation, Cassin Young moved in toward San Bernardino Strait, ready to launch strikes. At 09:38, an enemy bomb struck the aircraft carrier Princeton, and Cassin Young rescued over 120 men from the carrier before that ship sank, then rejoined TG 38.3 for the dash northward to attack the Japanese Northern Force.
  • On October 25, 1944, a series of air strikes during the Battle off Cape Engaño resulted in the sinking of four Japanese carriers and a destroyer. As her carriers continued to range widely, striking at enemy bases on Okinawa, Formosa, and Luzon, Cassin Young continued operations in support of the Leyte conquest.
  • On October 31, 1944, Cmdr. John Ailes III takes over command of the Cassin Young.
  • Through January 1945, with Ulithi as her base, the destroyer screened carriers as their aircraft pounded away at Formosa, Luzon, Cam Ranh Bay (Vietnam), Hong KongCanton and the Nansei Shoto in their support for the assault on Luzon.
  • After a brief overhaul at Ulithi, Cassin Young joined operations supporting the invasion of Iwo Jima with air strikes on Honshū and Okinawa, the bombardment of Parece Vela, and screening off Iwo Jima itself in support of Marine operations during the initial assault on February 19, 1945.
  • On March 22, 1945, after another brief respite at Ulithi, she sailed for her deployment for the Okinawa operation. After screening heavy ships in the massive pre-invasion bombardment, Cassin Young helped “soften up” Okinawa for the upcoming assault on that island, and moving inshore to support the activities of underwater demolition teams preparing the beaches.
  • On April 1, 1945, the destroyer escorted assault craft to the beaches, providing shore bombardment in the assault areas, then took up radar picket duty, providing early warning of impending air attacks to the main fleet, possibly the most hazardous duty performed by any warship during World War II. In the weeks and months ahead, the ships assigned to the 15 picket stations bore the brunt of over 1,500 Kamikaze attacks which the Japanese gambled on in defeating the Okinawa operation. Radar Picket (RP) Stations 1,2 and 3 faced the worst of these attacks.
  • On April, 6, 1945, Cassin Young, on duty at RP Station 3, endured her first Kamikaze attacks as the Japanese launched the first of 10 massed attacks, sending 355 Kamikazes and 341 bombers towards Okinawa.  The ship downed three “bogeys” (enemy planes) and picked up survivors from the nearby destroyers assigned to RP Stations 1 and 2 (both were hit and sunk by Kamikazes).
  • On April, 12, 1945, a massive wave of Kamikazes came in at midday. Cassin Young was then assigned to RP Station 1. Her accurate gunfire had aided in shooting down 5 aircraft, but a sixth crashed high-up into her foremast, exploding in midair only 15 m. (50 ft.) from the ship. Surprisingly only one man was killed but 58 were wounded, many of them seriously. Cassin Young, although damaged, made Kerama Retto under her own power.
  • On May, 31, 1945, after repairs at Kerama Retto and at Ulithi, she returned to Okinawa and resumed radar picket duty.
  • As the Kamikaze attacks continued, Cassin Young had respite only during two brief convoy escort voyages to the Marianas.
  • On July, 28, 1945, her group was again a prime target for the Japanese, with one destroyer sunk and another badly damaged by Kamikazes. During the engagement, Cassin Young assisted in shooting down two enemy aircraft, then rescued 125 survivors from the sunken USS Callaghan.
  • At 3:26 AM on July 29, 1945, just 16 days before Japan surrendered, Cassin Young was struck for the second time, when a low-flying aircraft hit her starboard side of the main deck, near the forward smoke stack, striking her fire control room. A tremendous explosion amidships was followed by fire and the ship lay dead in the water. However, the crew managed contained the damage, restore power to one engine, get the flames under control, and had the ship underway for the safety of Kerama Retto within 20 minutes. Casualties were 22 men dead and 45 wounded.  For her determined service and gallantry in the Okinawa radar picket line she was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.
  • On August 8, 1945, Cassin Young cleared Okinawa  and headed home for repairs. Arriving home in San Pedro, California, she was fully repaired.
  • On August 29, 1945, Lt.-Cmdr. Carl Pfeifer takes over command of the ship.
  • On May 28, 1946, she was decommissioned and placed the reserve or “mothball” fleet in San Diego.
  • On September 8, 1951, with the outbreak of the Korean Conflict, many destroyers were recalled to service and Cassin Young was recommissioned at Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
  • On January 4, 1952, she cleared San Diego for her new home port, Newport, Rhode Island.
  • In September 1952 she entered Dry Dock #1 in the Charlestown Facility, Boston Navy Yard (beginning her association with this navy yard) for the first of four major overhauls she would undergo in this shipyard. At this time the ship was updated to its current configuration. Two Hedgehog anti-submarine warfare (ASW) launchers and two torpedo carriages for the Mark 32 torpedo were added, with one 21 inch (533 mm.) quintuple torpedo tube mount removed. Also, four 40 mm. Bofors twin mounts were replaced by two quadruple mounts. The forward pole mast was replaced by a tripod mast to accommodate improved radar and electronics systems.
  • On November 21, 1952, Cmdr. Thomas Rudden, Jr. takes over command of the Cassin Young.
  • From May 7 to June 12, 1953, local operations and refresher training in the Caribbean preceded a period of antisubmarine exercises off Florida.
  • From September 16 to November 30, 1953, she had her first tour of duty with the 6th Fleet, initially serving in Atlantic and Mediterranean waters.
  • On May 3, 1954, after another period of local operations and exercises in the Caribbean Sea early in 1954, she cleared Newport for a round-the-world cruise, which included exercises with the 7th Fleet in the western Pacific, patrols off Korea, and good-will visits to Far Eastern and Mediterranean ports.
  • On November 28, 1954, she returned to Newport.
  • On August 17, 1956, Cmdr. Clifton Cates, Jr. takes over command of the Cassin Young.
  • On September 14, 1958, Cmdr. John Hooper takes over as commanding officer of the ship.
  • In 1959, Cassin Young was awarded the Battle Efficiency “E” for overall excellent performances in all exercises that year.
  • From 1954 until 1960, her operations included training exercises in the Caribbean and off the eastern Atlantic seaboard as well as four tours of duty in the Mediterranean in 1956, winter 1956-57, and 1959, and a round of visits to ports of northern Europe in 1958. During those years, the ship returned to the Boston Naval Shipyard five more times for overhauls to keep ahead of the unavoidable problem of old age.
  • On February 6, 1960, she arrived at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to be decommissioned because, during that last overseas deployment, an issue was discovered with her rudder that put her into dry dock in France. At that point the repair costs outweighed retaining the aging ship.
  • On April 29, 1960, Cassin Young was put into long-term storage at the PhiladelphiaNaval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility.
  • On December 1, 1974, she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. The US Navy has permanently loaned Cassin Young to the National Park Service, to be preserved as a floating memorial ship berthed at the Boston Navy Yard, part of the Boston National Historical Park (BNHP) in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • On June 15, 1978, Cassin Young arrived at Boston Navy Yard
  • In 1981, Cassin Young was opened to the public.
  • In 1986, she was designated as a National Historic Landmark
  • In late July 2010, Cassin Young closed to the public in preparation for dry-docking.
  • On August 9, 2010, she was moved into Historic Dry Dock #1 in BNHP for the first time in 30 years for some much needed repairs to her hull.
  • On September 4, 2012, the ship was closed to the public to allow contractors to make final repairs to the hull.
  • On May 14, 2013, she returned to her position at Pier 1.
  • On June 4, 2013, she was moved to the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in East Boston while repairs were made to her berth in Charlestown.
  • By September 2013, she had returned to her museum berth.

Jandy in front of a Mark 12 5-inch, 38 caliber gun

Quad-mount 40-mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns

Twin-mount 40-mm. Bofors anti-aircraft guns

Depth charge track

Hedgehog ASW Mortar

Mark 32 torpedo

Here are some specifications of this ship:

  • Displacement :2,050 tons (2,924 full)
  • Length: 114.7 m. (376.4 ft.)
  • Beam: 12.1 m. (39.6 ft.)
  • Draft: 4.2 m. (13.8 ft.)
  • Propulsion: 4 oil-fired boilers, 2 General Electric gearedsteam turbines, 2 shafts, 45,000 kW (60,000 shp)
  • Speed: 67.6 kms./hr. (36.5 knots, 42.0 mph)
  • Range: 12,000 kms. (6,500 nautical miles); 7,500 mile at 15 knots (28 kms/hr.; 17 mph)
  • Complement: 325
  • Armament (as built): 5 x 5 in (127 mm)/38 caliber guns, 5 x twin 40 mm AA guns, 7 x 20 mm AA guns, 2 x quintuple 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 6 x K-gun depth charge throwers, 2 x depth charge tracks
  • Armanent (as preserved): 5 x 5 in (127 mm)/38 caliber guns, 2 x quad 40 mm AA guns, 1 x twin 40 mm AA guns, 1 x quintuple 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 2 x torpedo carriages for the Mark 32 torpedo, 2 x Hedgehog ASW mortar, 1 x depth charge track

Captain’s In Port Cabin

Combat Information Center (CIC)

Officers Wardroom

Radio Room

Sick Bay

USS Cassin Young: 198 3rd St., Pier 1, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts 02129.  Tel: (617) 242-5601.  Admission is free. Free 45-min. guided tours, by a Park Ranger, takes you to the galleys, mess, officers’ quarters, engine room, gun/battery, captain’s cabin, the bridge and the crew quarters, all parts of the ship not accessible without a guide.

USS Constitution Museum (Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

USS Constitution Museum

The USS Constitution Museum serves as the memory and educational voice of the still floating and docked frigate USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) and provides engaging and hands-on experiences for all visitors. An interpretive complement to this still active duty naval vessel (first launched in 1797) but managed separately, it tells the story of the ship and the people who designed, built and sailed her through its collection of artifacts related to the ship’s history and interactive exhibits.

Check out “USS Constitution – Old Ironsides

Fully rigged model of USS Constitution

Part of the Boston National Historical Park, it is housed in a restored shipyard building at the foot of Pier 2, just across the pier from the Constitution, at the end of Boston’s Freedom Trail. Highly recommended for naval history fans, both ship and museum are a “must see” for anyone visiting Boston.

Check out “Freedom Trail”

Painting of the launching of the USS Constitution

The museum, a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, was honored to be rated a prestigious 4 stars on Charity Navigator.  It has won many awards including the 2003 National Award for Museum and Library Service, the 2010 Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing Award, the 2011 Leadership in History Award of Merit, the 2011 Muse Award for Online Presence and the Parent’s Choice Award.

A Hero’s Welcome

A private, award-winning non-profit organization incorporated in 1972, the museum opened its doors at its present facility in 1976. Its founding enabled the Constitution to clear its decks of display cases so that visitors who tour aboard would see a frigate ready to sail, rather than a floating museum. It is also home to the Samuel Eliot Morison Memorial Library and includes a comprehensive archival repository of records related to the ship’s history.

All Hands on Deck – A Sailor’s Life in 1812

The fantastic All Hands on Deck: A Sailor’s Life in 1812, a permanent all-ages interactive  exhibit (combined with images, sound, theater, artifacts and physical and mental tests) located at the second floor geared specifically toward children, was opened on n July 3, 2009. 

A scaled model of a yard and work ropes

Based on the museum’s ongoing historical research into lives of 1243 sailors’ and officers’ that served aboard the USS Constitution during the War of 1812, it explores the harsh realities of life at sea, through a combination of authentic storytelling and hands-on activities, just as the War of 1812 is declared.

The author tries out a hammock

Here, you can discover the unique world afloat as you swing in a authentic canvas hammock that sailors used to bed down, climb onto a scaled model of a yard and work ropes to try to shorten and furl a sail; get on your hands and knees and grab a holy stone to scrub a deck; experience battle and learn how they survived for months, sometimes years at sea.

Ship’s Store

Along the walls are life-sized cutouts of notable crew members, each with a plaque telling their own unique story aboard the ship.  You can also find out the dramatic twists in the life story of 8 year old David Debias, an African-American boy that joined Constitution’s crew in 1812. There are also actual artifacts from the ship including an actual biscuit that a sailor saved as a souvenir.

There’s also a station where you can test your knot-tying abilities and, at the end of the exhibition, spin a wheel to determine your ultimate fate at sea.

Forest to Frigate – a cross section of the Constitution

Forest to Frigate, the museum’s newest hands-on exhibit, chronicles the ship’s first 200 years, how and why she was built, how she earned her fame in the War of 1812, and why the US Navy still preserves the the over two century old wooden frigate as a commissioned warship. 

Enter the 1790’s to follow the story from the forest in which “Old Ironsides’” timbers grew to her launch as a fully formed frigate.  Decide for yourself what kind of ship to build, meet men like Paul Revere who labored to bring her to life, and test your shipyard skills.

Old Ironsides in War and Peace

Old Ironsides in War and Peace” provides an in-depth look at the ship’s storied history, including how and why she was built, how she earned her fame during the War of 1812, and why she is preserved at the United States Navy‘s oldest commissioned warship. The exhibits on the War of 1812 and the Barbary War are especially interesting. Here you can trace the birth of the US Navy during these relatively unknown conflicts.

Weapons Chest with a musket, rifle, 2 pistols and 2 cutlasses

On display are  scores of artifacts, documents, and photographs illustrating Constitution‘s decisive and symbolic role in US history.  They include a spike made by Paul Revere’s shop and phenomenal period paintings of USS Constitution and her captains

Old Ironsides – War of 1812 Discovery Center

“Old Ironsides” War of 1812 Discovery Center, an interactive exhibit designed for families in mind, explains the causes and consequences of the War of 1812 through games, multi-media, books, and other hands-on activities.

Old Ironsides – War of 1812 Discovery Center

Constitution vs HMS Java” tells the story of the battle between Constitution and HMS Java, through artwork, archival records, and artifacts associated with the battle.

Model Shipwright Guild

The Model Shipwright Guild, at the ground floor of the museum, operates a workshop, where visitors can see volunteer modelers working on fantastically detailed miniatures of the USS Constitution and other ships.

Museum Store

USS Constitution Museum : Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard88 Constitution Rd., 
BostonMassachusetts 02129, USA.  Tel: +1 617-996-1954 and +1 617-426-1812.Open daily, 10AM – 5PM. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. ​ Admission: free (a suggested donation of US$5 for adults and US $3 for children is welcome). Website:

How to Get There: The GPS address is 1 Constitution Road, Charlestown. For thos with cars, you can park in the Nautica Parking Garage across from the Naval Yard Visitor Center.  For those taking public transporation, take the MBTA Green Line (to North Station) or Orange Line (to Bunker Hill Community College). Walk east on Causeway Street towards the Zakim Bridge/North End. At the first light (North Washington Street), turn left and cross the Charlestown Bridge. Follow the Freedom Trail red line to the Charlestown Navy Yard and enter through Gate 1.

National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center (Washington D.C., USA)

National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center

The National Museum of American History (NMAH): Kenneth E. Behring Center, a museum that is part of the Smithsonian Institution, collects, preserves, and displays the heritage of the United States in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. The first of the National Mall’s post-war Brutalist behemoths. It consists of three H-shaped floors with a central axis leading to exhibition space on either side.

The south facade of the museum

Opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology, it was one of the last structures designed by the renowned architectural firm McKim Mead & White, the firm that initiated the Classical Revival on the Mall with its 1910 Beaux Arts National Museum of Natural History. In 1980, the museum was renamed the National Museum of American History to represent its mission of the collection, care, study, and interpretation of objects that reflect the experience of the American people.

1 West

From September 5, 2006 to November 21, 2008, the museum was closed when it underwent an US$85 million renovation.   Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, led by Gary Haney, provided the architecture and interior design services for the renovation.

Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

Major changes made include a new, five-storey, skylit atriums surrounded by displays of artifacts that showcase the breadth of the museum’s collection; a new, grand staircase that links the museum’s first and second floors; a new welcome center; the addition of six landmark objects to orient visitors; new galleries such as the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Hall of Invention; and an environmentally controlled chamber to protect the original Star-Spangled Banner.

Archive Center

In 2012, the museum began a US$37 million renovation of the west wing; adding new exhibition spaces, public plazas, an education center, panoramic windows overlooking the National Mall on all three floors and new interactive features to the exhibits. On July 1, 2015, the first floor of the west wing reopened and, in 2016 and 2017 respectively,  the second and third floors of the west wing were reopened.

Linda and Pete Clausen Hall of Democracy

Visitors can enter the vast NMAH building either from the on-grade National Mall entrance or from the below-grade Constitution Avenue entrance (a walled terrace bridges the differing heights), both minuscule apertures that are not fitting entrances that furnish a sense of grandeur or importance to a museum built to tell America’s story.  At its National Mall entrance is Infinity, a 7.3 m. (24-ft.) tall abstract sculpture (one of the first abstract sculptures displayed at a major public building in Washington D.C.) dedicated in 1967. Designed by José de Rivera and created by Roy Gussow, the sculpture is a 4.9 m. (16-ft.) long, polished stainless steel ribbon on top of a granite tower.

Alexander Calder’s steel sculpture Gwenfritz.  In the background is the National Museum of African American History and Culture

We entered the museum via the latter. Here, on the west side, is Alexander Calder‘s sculpture, Gwenfritz, a 35-ton steel abstract stabile (named after its socialite patron Gwendolyn Cafritz) installed in a fountain and dedicated to the museum on June 2, 1969. The long entrance hall, like many other areas of the building, is poorly illuminated and dispiriting. During our visit, the west side of the second floor was undergoing refurbishment through the end of 2017, and the west side of third floor until 2018.

Artifact walls line the first and second floor center core, with dimly lit 84 m. (275 ft.) of glass-fronted cases, each crammed with hundreds of random objects, big and small, are organized around themes that include arts; popular culture; business, work and economy; home and family; community; land and natural resources; peopling America; politics and reform; science; medicine; technology; and the United States’ role in the world.

A landmark object highlights the theme of each wing of the museum’s three exhibition floors. These include the John Bull locomotivethe Greensboro, Woolworth’s North Carolina lunch counter (where four legends from North Carolina A&T State University staged a sit-in in 1961 to protest segregation), a one of a kind draft wheel and, from pre-existing exhibits, the 1865 Vassar Telescope, a Red Cross ambulance and a car from Disneyland‘s Dumbo Flying Elephant ride.

John Bull Locomotive of 1831

The first floor contains a café, the main museum store, the Constitution Avenue lobby (1 Center) as well as a space for temporary exhibits. 1 East, the first floor’s East Wing, houses the General Motors Hall of Transportation which has series of two transportation-related exhibits that are roughly related – “America on the Move” (opened November 22, 2003) and its companion exhibition, “On the Water: Stories from Maritime America” (opened on May 20, 2009).  One of the best parts of the museum, the John Bull locomotive is the signature artifact.

America on the Move: On the Interstate – 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix convertible and 1986 Dodge Caravan

America on the Move,” designed by the Museum Design Associates of Cambridge, Mass.; AMAZE Design of Boston; and the Smith Group, of Washington, D.C., encompasses nearly 26,000 sq. ft. on the first floor of the museum, and includes 340 objects and 19 historic settings in chronological order.

Roadside Communities: Tourist cabin at Ring’s Rest (Muirkirk, Maryland).  On the left is a 1934 Ford Deluxe Roadster

City and Suburb: Fageol Twin Coach “Old Look” Liquefied-Propane Gas-Powered Bus, 1950 (2)

It takes visitors on a fascinating journey, from the coming of the railroad to a California town in 1876 to the role of the streetcar and the automobile in creating suburbs to the global economy of Los Angeles in 1999, as they travel back in time and experience transportation, through multimedia technology and environment, as it changed America, seeing historic artifacts as they once were, a vital part of the nation’s transportation system and of the business, social, and cultural history of the country.

1926 Ford Model T Roadster on its side on a Turn Auto

A Streetcar City: Electric streetcar, 1898

The Smithsonian’s popular and voluminous collection of the many and varied forms of rare, fascinating, and important transportation is showcased in historic settings brought to life by large mural backdrops, 73 cast figures and soundscapes.

On the School Bus: 36-passenger Dodge school bus, 1936

The People’s Highway: Route 66

It  includes the horse-drawn cart, early automobiles, the electric car, buses, a Chicago Transit Authority “L” car,  a massive 199-ton, 92-foot-long “1401” Southern Railway locomotive and a gigantic 1930’s steam engine plus a 40-foot stretch of the famed Route 66.

On the Water:  Stories from Maritime America

The brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed “On the Water: Stories from Maritime America,” a pleasing and instructive museum experience on the left side of the entrance of General Motors Hall of Transportation, leads the visitor through 7 topical/chronological sections that span American maritime history from 1450 to the present.

Ocean Crossings

It explores the many ways in which Americans, from Colonial times to the present, have pursued commerce at sea and on America’s extensive coastal and inland waterways through impressive artifacts, flawless audiovisual aids, instructive texts, and a powerful aesthetic.

Web of Connections

The 8,500 sq. ft. exhibit seamlessly carries the visitor through topics as diverse as commercial fishing, passenger liners, the slave trade, container ships, and the contributions of the merchant marine to victory in World War II.

Tobacco ship Brilliant

On display are rigged ship models (including a large model of the tobacco ship Brilliant) representing the web of vessels that transported sugar, tobacco and slaves; a wooden snuff box carved into the shape of a potbellied man (with one eye bulging, the other missing) that connects vast trade systems to everyday consumer habits; a real-life steam engine room; a Fresnel lighthouse lens that lit waters 17 miles afar; a tucked-away safety vest invention that appears to be a twin mattress folded, diaper-like, under the wearer’s torso; and the first sliver of gold found at Sutter’s Mill that precipitated the California Gold Rush.

Lighting a Revolution

The “Lighting a Revolution” exhibition, opened at 1 East to commemorate the centennial of Thomas Edison’s light bulb, considers experiments with electricity before Edison’s, the “Invention Factory” at Menlo Park, how Edison created a market for his product, and the impact of electricity in factories, on city streets, and in the home.

The exhibition features a bulb from a public demonstration of Edison’s light in Menlo Park during Christmas week, 1879; and early electrical appliances for the home, some of which caught on, such as electric fans, and some which did not, namely the electric marshmallow toaster.

Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation

The large but sparsely furnished “Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation,” opened July 1, 2015, features “Places of Invention,” Draper Spark!Lab and “Inventive Minds.”  “Places of Invention” is centered on the theme of innovation, where the museum is transforming how its audiences will experience history.

Inventive Minds

“Inventive Minds,” a small gallery, introduces visitors to the work of the Lemelson Center, particularly its efforts to document diverse American inventors.  Draper Spark!Lab, a hands-on exhibit, has the Vassar Telescope as its signature artifact.

Places of Invention

The exhibition features 37 objects illustrating the inventions at the heart of each case study. Highlighted objects include a Technicolor camera used to film The Wizard of Oz; a turntable used by Grandmaster Flash; the prototype of the first computer mouse invented by Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute (on loan from SRI International); 1886 Columbia Light Roadster men’s high-wheel bicycle; an example of the Medtronic 5800 Model External Pacemaker invented by Earl Bakken; and several prototypes representing cutting-edge clean energy inventions coming out of Fort Collins.

In addition, there are five interactive stations set up on tables where visitors can participate in fun, hands-on learning experiences such as designing their own eight-bit icon (Silicon Valley section) or learning and practicing their DJ “scratching” skills (The Bronx section). However, objects such as a jukebox, a Howdy Doody puppet and a pink Patsy Cline costume do not necessarily bring the word “invention” to mind.

Vault door marking the entrance to the Gallery of Numismatics

The Gallery of Numismatics, opened July 1, 2015 at 1 West, delves into the world-class National Numismatic Collection (NNC), one of the Smithsonian’s oldest and most treasured collections (with more than 1.6 million objects), to uncover stories related to the origins, innovations, messages, artistry and allure of money.

Collecting Money and the World’s Gold

Entered via a vault door, it showcases more than 400 objects from the NNC, some of which are among the rarest in the world. The exhibition, thematically organized into five sections, allows visitors to learn about the origins of money, new monetary technologies, the political and cultural messages money conveys, numismatic art and design, and the practice of collecting money.

Origins – 168 pound stone ring from Yap Island

Featured American objects includes a storied 1933 Double Eagle, a personal check signed by Pres. James Madison in 1813, a 1934 US$100,000 note and a Depression-era $1 clam shell. International artifacts include a 168-pound stone ring used to make payments on Island of Yap, a 465 B.C.; a decadrachma coin from Syracuse, Sicily; a 14th-century Ming Note from China and a 1762 8 Real Coin from Mexico (also known as a Spanish piece of eight).  The gallery will also showcase the famous Josiah K. Lilly Jr. collection of gold coins and the Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich collection of Russian coins (thought to be the finest outside of Russia).

Stories on Money

Stories on Money,” a numismatic exhibition housed in a small room, comprehensibly traces the historical and aesthetic evolution of US banknotes and coinage through a skillfully culled collection.

Female Figures on Money

Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000,” a 3,800 sq. ft. exhibition opened last November 20, 2012 in 1 East, is a creative blend of objects, graphics, video and an interactive, communal table that highlights how American eating and shopping habits have changed during those five decades.

Julia Child’s Home Kitchen

Julia Child‘s Home Kitchen, the opening story of the museum’s first major exhibition on food history, contains the tools, appliances, equipment, and furnishings arranged exactly as they were when Julia donated it to the museum. New and Improved!” explores the innovations behind some of the major changes in food production, distribution, preparation, and consumption since the 1950s.

Wine at the Table: Innovations at the Vineyard and the Winery

At Wine for the Table, discover how new technologies, innovators, and changing attitudes led to the tremendous growth and expansion of wine and winemaking, an important story in postwar America, in all 50 states by 2000.

The large, communal table in the center of the exhibition

At Open Table, the public is invited take a seat at a large, communal table, in the center of the exhibition, and engage in conversation about a wide range of food-related issues and topics, sharing their own thoughts and experiences about food and change in America.

American Enterprise

The 8,000 sq. ft. American Enterprise, opened last July 1, 2015 at 1 West, focuses on the role of business and innovation from the mid-1700s to the present.  It chronicles the tumultuous interaction of capitalism and democracy that resulted in the continual remaking of American business—and American life.

Westinghouse Compound Engine

Visitors are immersed in the dramatic arc of labor, power, wealth, success, and failure in America. It traces the development of the United States from a small dependent agricultural nation to one of the world’s largest economies through the following 4 chronological eras: the Merchant Era (1770s – 1850s), the Corporate Era (1860s – 1930s), Consumer Era (1940s – 1970s), and the Global Era (1980s – 2010s). On display are John Deere’s plow, Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, Barbara McClintock’s microscope, Stanley Cohen’s recombinant DNA research notebook, Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephones, Alfred Bloomingdale’s personal credit cards, a New York Stock Exchange booth from 1929, an early Monopoly board game and one of Michael Dell’s early computers.

The second floor of the museum, whose lobby leads out to Madison Drive and the National Mall, houses the museum’s new welcome center and a store. 2 West, the west wing of the second floor, has the George Washington statue (created in 1840 for the centennial of Washington’s birthday) as its signature artifact. The Wallace H. Coulter Unity Square, at 2 West, is the floor’s new program space dedicated to immersive activities and performances that richly illustrate America’s participatory democracy. At the center of Unity Square, is the Greensboro lunch counter, a small section of the original F.W. Woolworth’s Lunch Counter from Greensboro, N.C. 2 East, at the east wing of the second floor, has exhibitions that consider American ideals.

The Star Spangled Banner Exhibit

The original, newly conserved Star Spangled Banner Flag, in 2 East, the center of the second floor, is displayed in a dimly lit room, at the heart of the museum, with a climate-controlled environment to help preserve its color and fabric..  During the War of 1812, it was the same flag seen by Francis Scott Key come morning, after a long nighttime battle, above Fort McHenry, outside Baltimore, Maryland, signifying that the U.S. defenses had held.

Check out “Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine – Birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner

This marked the penultimate major battle in the war, which ended a few weeks later. It inspired him to write the poem which is now the U.S. national anthem. In the days and years after the battle, the flag was flown in all kinds of weather, and parts were snipped off as souvenirs. Just across the room from the flag is an interactive display by Potion Design featuring a full-size, digital reproduction of the flag that allows patrons to learn more about it by touching different areas on the flag.

LEGO Statue of Liberty

The 9 ft. tall Statue of Liberty, at 2 West, is made of sand green LEGO bricks and weighing 125 pounds without its steel support.

George Washington Statue (Horatio Greenough, 1841)

The 12-ton marble George Washington Statue, atop a granite pedestal and base, was created in 1841 (on the occasion of the centennial of the first president’s birthday) by Horatio Greenough.  Envisioned to be a symbolic representation of Washington as a great exemplar of liberty, it depicts Washington wearing a chest-baring toga.

Within These Walls Exhibit

The 4,200 sq. ft. Within These Walls Exhibit, opened last May 16 2017 in 2 West, tells the stories of five families who lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts, about 30 miles north of Boston, over the years and made history in their kitchens and parlors, through everyday choices and personal acts of courage and sacrifice. Through their lives, the exhibition explores some of the important ways ordinary people have been part of the great changes and events in American history.

The partially reconstructed Georgian-style, two-and-a-half-story timber-framed house, built around 1700

At the center of the gallery is the largest artifact in the museum, a partially reconstructed Georgian-style, two-and-a-half-story timber-framed house, built around 1700, that stood for 200 years at 16 Elm Street and was saved from demolition by an Ipswich citizen and then brought to the Smithsonian Institution.

The exhibition also features an 18th-century tea table; an anti-slavery almanac and the Wedgwood Anti-Slavery medallion; a Philco radio from the 1930s; and World War II-era cookbooks, posters, rationing coupons and a proximity fuse used to detonate bombs and artillery shells.

The American Presidency – A Glorious Burden

3 Center, the center of the third floor, presents The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, which explores the personal and public lives, ceremonial and executive actions of the 43 men who have held that office and had a huge impact on the course of history in the past 200 years. Composed of 11 thematic sections, the exhibition addresses such topics as inaugural celebrations, presidential roles, life at the White House, limits of presidential power, assassinations and mourning, the influence of the media, and life after the presidency.

Hat worn by Lincoln to Ford’s Theater on the night of his assasination

The role of the presidency in American culture is brought to life by more than 900 objects, including national treasures from the Smithsonian’s vast presidential collections.

The horse-drawn carriage that carried Ulysses S. Grant in his second inaugural parade in 1873

They include Abraham Lincoln‘s life mask; a Lewis and Clark Expedition compass; the horse-drawn carriage that carried Ulysses S. Grant in his second inaugural parade in 1873; a radio microphone used by Franklin D. Roosevelt to give his fireside chats during World War II; an early teddy bear (named after Theodore Roosevelt) and Bill Clinton‘s saxophone.

The First Ladies of America

The First Ladies of America, a popular permanent exhibit also at 3 center, encourages visitors to consider the contributions and changing role played by the first lady and American women over the past 200 years by exploring the unofficial but important position of First Lady and the ways that different women have shaped the role to make their own contributions to the presidential administrations and the nation.

White House China Collection

The exhibition features, as a mark of changing times, more than two dozen gowns from the Smithsonian’s almost 100-year old First Ladies Collection.  It includes those worn by Frances Cleveland, Lou Hoover, Jacqueline Kennedy, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.  A section, entitled “Changing Times, Changing First Ladies,” highlights the roles played by Dolly Madison, Mary Lincoln, Edith Roosevelt, and Lady Bird Johnson and their contributions to their husband’s administrations.

Martha Washington’s Silk Gown, 1780s

National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center: 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW,  National MallWashington, D.C. Admission is free. Open daily (except December 25), 10 AM – 5:30 PM.

National Museum of Natural History (Washington D.C., USA)

National Museum of Natural History

The Neo-Classical style  National Museum of Natural History, administered by the Smithsonian Institution, is a natural history museum dedicated to maintaining and preserving the world’s most extensive collection of natural history specimens and human artifacts.

It fosters significant scientific research and produces educational programs and exhibitions that present the work of its scientists to the public. Its facilities include the Museum Support Center (Suitland, Maryland), a marine science center in Fort Pierce (Florida) and field stations in Belize, Alaska and Kenya.

Petrified Wood

Pre-Cambrian Banded Iron Ore (Jasper Knob, Michigan)

Here are some interesting trivia regarding the museum:

  • It has the largest natural history collection in the world, with over 146 million specimens of human remains, human cultural artifacts, plantsanimalsfossilsmineralsrocks and meteorites. They include 30 million insects, 4.5 million plants preserved in the Museum’s herbarium, 7 million fish (stored in liquid-filled jars) and 2 million cultural artifacts (400,000 of which are are photographs housed in the National Anthropological Archives). Through an off-site active loan and exchange program, the museum’s collections can be accessed. Around 3.5 million specimens are out on loan every year and the rest of the collections not on display are stored in the non-public research areas of the museum and at the Museum Support Center.
  • It is the third most visited museum in the world
  • The museum on was one of the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to hold the national collections and research facilities.
  • It is the most visited natural history museum in the world
  • It is the most visited museum (of any type) in North America.
  • With 8 million visitors in 2013, it is the most visited of all of the Smithsonian museums
  • The main building has an overall area of 122,632 sq. m. (1,320,000 sq. ft.) with 30,200 sq. m. (325,000 sq. ft.) of exhibition and public space.
  • The  building, as part of the 1901 McMillan Commission plan, was the first structure constructed on the north side of the National Mall
  • The structure cost US$3.5 million (about US$85 million in inflation-adjusted 2012) dollars.
  • It houses 415 full time employees
  • It is also home to about 185 professional natural history scientists, the largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of natural and cultural history in the world.
  • It is only one of about six museums in the United States that has a T. rex skeleton.
  • Research in the museum is divided into seven departments: mineral sciences, anthropologybotanyentomologyinvertebrate zoologypaleobiology and vertebrate zoology.

Replica of Olmec Collosal Head (Tenochtitlan, Veracruz, Mexico, 1200-900 BCE)

Here’s the historical timeline of the museum:

  • In 1846, the United States National Museum, initially housed in the Smithsonian Institution Building (better known today as the Smithsonian Castle) was founded as part of the Smithsonian Institution.
  • In 1858, a formal exhibit hall opened.
  • On June 28, 1902, due to its growing collection, Congress authorized construction of the new National Museum Building (known today as the Arts and Industries Building), covering a then-enormous 9,100 sq. m. (2.25 acres) and built in just 15 months at a cost of US$310,000.
  • On March 1881, the National Museum Building was opened.
  • On January 29, 1903, in order to provide the Smithsonian Institution with more space for collections and research, a special committee (composed of members of Congress and representatives from the Smithsonian’s board of regents) published a report asking Congress to fund a much larger structure than originally planned.
  • On March 1903, the regents began considering sites for the new building
  • On April 12, 1903, they settled on a site on the north side of B Street NW between 9th and 12th Streets. The D.C. architectural firm of Hornblower & Marshall was chosen to design the structure.
  • On July 1903, testing of the soil for the foundations.
  • On March 17, 1910, the Natural History Building (as the National Museum of Natural History was originally known) opened its doors to the public.
  • On June 1911, the building was fully completed.
  • In 1997, Kenneth E. Behring donated US$20 million to modernize the museum.
  • On November 2003, the museum opened the US$100 million Behring Hall of Mammals
  • In 2004, the museum received US$60 million for the Sant Hall of Oceans and received a US$1 million gift from Tiffany & Co. for the purchase of precious gems for the National Gem Collection.
  • In June 2008, the Victoria and Roger Sant family donated US$15 million to endow the new Ocean Hall at the museum.
  • On August 2009, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its acquisition of the Hope Diamond, the gemstone was given its own exhibit and a new setting
  • In March 2010, the museum opened its US$21 million human evolution hall.
  • On March 2012, the museum received a US$35 million gift to renovate its Dinosaur Hall.

The Rotunda with its centerpiece stuffed African bush elephant named Henry

We entered the museum from the National Mall side.  At the Rotunda, we were greeted by the 8 ton, 14 ft. tall male African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) named Henry (at that time was the world’s largest land mammal on display in a museum), an iconic centerpiece installed here since 1959.  It was donated to the Smithsonian by  Josef J. Fénykövi. Fénykövi, a Hungarian big-game hunter who, in November 1955, tracked the elephant in the Cuando River region of southeastern Angola. 

Easter Island moai (stone figure)

This museum has 3 floors, but only 2 really have exhibits. At the north lobby entrance (Constitution Ave.), there is a Tyranosaurus rex skull, an intriguing Easter Island stone figures or moai (one of two acquired in 1888, one a complete statue, the other a head), probably one of the most photographed objects in the museum.

Skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex

Near a staircase is the 19th century Tsimshian Totem Pole from the  from Fort Simpson, British Columbia, at the American Northwest Coast, in 1876.

The Totem Post

The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, opened on March 17, 2010 (the museum’s 100th anniversary), is “dedicated to the discovery and understanding of human origins.”  Named for David H. Koch (who contributed US$15 million to the $20.7 million exhibit), it occupies 1,400 sq. m. (15,000 sq. ft.) of exhibit space at the first floor.

Walking Upright

This permanent exhibition focuses on the epic story of how the human species evolved over 6 million years, adapting and surviving during an era of dramatic climate change.

Creating a World of Symbols

It features more than 285 early-human fossils and artifacts, lifelike full-size reconstructions of several hominid species and 23 interactive experiences, including a morphing station where visitors can see what they would look like as early humans.

Specimens include 75 replica skulls and an interactive human family tree that follows six million years of evolution.  The Changing the World Gallery focuses on issues surrounding climate change and humans’ impact on the world.

The What Does It Mean To Be Human Exhibit, designed by Reich + Petch, is the Hall’s core concept idea.  It focuses on milestones of Human Evolution (Walking Upright, Bigger Brains, Creating a World of Symbols, etc.).  It also covers the Smithsonian’s significant research on the geological and climate changes which occurred in East Africa during significant periods of Human Evolution.

Meet Homo Floresiensis

The exhibit highlights an actual fossil Neanderthal and replicas created by John Gurche, a famed Paleo artist. The exhibit also provides a complementary web site (which provides diaries and podcasts directly from related fields of research) and a Companion Book, What Does It Mean To Be Human (written by curator Richard Potts and Christopher Sloan).

Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals

The multi-award-winning   Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals, a permanent first floor exhibition designed by Reich + Petch, represents the oldest exhibition in the National Museum of Natural History. It has the largest collection of vertebrate specimens in the world (nearly twice the size of the next largest mammal collections), including historically important collections from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its collection, initiated by C. Hart Merriam, was expanded in the 1890s-1930s by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (later the Department of the Interior).

It tells the story of mammal evolution across 225 million years, with more than 274 meticulously preserved specimens on permanent display, classified by continent and habitat. They include a koala, hippopotamus, gorilla, the tiny Spix’s disk-winged bat, the massive walrus, the familiar Eastern gray squirrel, the rare okapi,  a white rhinoceros (collected by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909) and  a short-beaked echidna (one of only five species of monotremes, or egg-laying mammals).  There’s also a bronze recreation of Morganucadon oehleri, the earliest-known mammal, which lived 210 million years ago.

Designed with families in mind, its mammal specimens are presented as works of modern art within strikingly minimal environmentals. Here, we discovered mammal’s evolutionary adaptions to hugely diverse contexts, and ultimately discovered that they too are mammals.

Wide Open Prairie

The hall includes four discovery zones with hands-on activities that help visitors explore an array of mammal adaptations and habitats around the world. An 8-minute film at the Evolution Theater  surveys the mammal family tree and the vast changes its members have been through in the past 225 million years.

Sant Ocean Hall

The 23,000 sq. ft. Sant Ocean Hall, the largest renovation of the museum since it opened in 1910, was named for the Roger Sant family, who donated US$15 million to endow the new hall and other related programs. Opened on September 27, 2008, this hall includes 674 marine specimens and models drawn from the over 80 million specimens in the museum’s total collection, the largest in the world.

Basilosaurus cetoides

This one-of-a-kind interpretive, permanent exhibition, at the first floor,  demonstrates how the ocean is intrinsically connected to other global systems and the daily lives of people around the world.

North Atlantic Right Whale

The collection includes: a real, life-size, coelenterate-long North Atlantic Right Whale named Phoenix (who scientists have been tracking since her birth in 1987), a 1,500-gallon aquarium, one female giant squid displayed in the center of the hall and a male displayed off to the side, an adult coelenterate, a Basilosaurus cetoides and 3 skeletons of ancient whale relatives (one of which had legs).

At the Ocean Explorer Theater, we watched a short film inviting visitors to explore the multitude of life that thrives two miles below the surface on board Alvin, a deep-ocean submersible. We also watched an innovative video presentation of global ocean data projected on a 6-ft. diameter sphere.

Global ocean data projected on a 6-ft. diameter sphere.

Other exhibits include bubblegum coral  (the largest-known deep sea coral, named for its bright pink color and gumball-like branch tips), a massive fossilized jaw of C. megalodon (a gigantic shark that prowled the ocean between 2.6 and 23 million years ago), carpet anemone, a snapping shrimp, a long-spined sea urchin plus 21 other species in the living Indo-Pacific coral reef.

African Voices

The African Voices  exhibit and associated website “examines the diversity, dynamism, and global influence of Africa‘s peoples and cultures over time in the realms of family, work, community, and the natural environment.”

Mud Masons of Mali

This permanent first floor exhibit includes historical and contemporary objects from the museum’s collection and commissioned sculptures, textiles, and pottery. Video interactives and sound stations provide selections from contemporary interviews, literature, proverbs, prayers, folk tales, songs and oral epics.

Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Materials

The 20,000 sq. ft.  Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, at the second floor, is one of the most significant collections of its kind in the world.

Rubies and Sapphires

This permanent exhibition currently houses over 15,000 individual gems in the collection, as well as 350,000 minerals, 300,000 samples of rock and ore specimens and approximately 35,000 meteorites (which is considered to be one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind in the world).

Anthromorphic Stone

It showcases the most famous pieces of gems and minerals in the collection include the Hope Diamond (donated in 1958 by Harry Winston), the Star of Asia Sapphire (one of the largest sapphires in the world) and the Gachalá Emerald, one of the world’s largest, at 858 carats (172 g.)

Hope Diamond

It also encompasses re-created mines and galleries that present important research in mineral chemistry and physics; plate tectonics, seismology and the study of volcanoes; and planetary science.

Shattered Worlds

The specimens are augmented by two dozen interactive computer presentations and videos, large panels of stunning artwork, and a real-time display of global earthquake data.

Calcite (Elinwood Mine, Smith County, Tennessee)

Some its most important donors, besides Janet Annenberg Hooker, are Washington A. Roebling (the man who built the Brooklyn Bridge)  who gave 16,000 specimens to the collection; Frederick A. Canfield, who donated 9,000 specimens to the collection; and Dr. Isaac Lea, who donated the basis of the museum’s collection of 1312 gems and minerals.

Macleay’s Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum, Australia)  at O. Orkin Insect Zoo

The O. Orkin Insect Zoo,  a permanent second floor exhibition sponsored by Orkin (a pest control company), offers visitors a variety of exhibits about insects, plenty of hands-on activities and entomologists and features live insects as well as daily tarantula feedings.

Brazilian red and white tarantula

Different habitats have been created to show the type of insects that live in different environments and how they have adapted to a freshwater pond, house, mangrove swampdesert and rain forest.

Osteology: Bone Hall – Man and the Manlike Apes

The Osteology: Bone Hall, the oldest exhibition in the National Museum of Natural History, displays almost 300 vertebrate skeletons grouped by their evolutionary relationships.

Perciform Fishes

This permanent second floor exhibition highlights the diversity and unity of every major group of vertebrates, supporting ideas of evolution and common ancestry.

The diversity and unity of every major group of vertebrates is highlighted, supporting ideas of evolution and common ancestry.

Pinniped Fossil

Objects of Wonder: From the Collections of the National Museum of Natural History, a new exhibition opened  at the second floor just last March 10, 2017, presented 145 rarely displayed artifacts and specimens from the extraordinary collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The “Blue Flame,” one of the world’s largest and finest pieces of gem-quality lapis lazuli

The exhibition, which will remain on view through 2019, will examine how scientists use Smithsonian collections to enlighten and illuminate our understanding of nature and human culture.

Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon

Objects featured in the exhibition include Martha (the last known passenger pigeon), the “Blue Flame” (one of the world’s largest and finest pieces of gem-quality lapis lazuli), the Pinniped fossil (one of the earliest members of the group of animals that includes living seals, sea lions and walruses) and the 1875 Tsimshian House Front (one of the best examples of Native Alaskan design artwork). The exhibition also features visually striking displays of exotic wood, tiger cowries, and a remarkable array of insects and tiny deep-sea corals.

22nd Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards Exhibition

At the 22nd Annual Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards Exhibition (named after nature photographer and conservationist, Windland Smith Rice) at the second floor, we saw 60 extraordinary images (to showcase the work of photographers in 59 countries), selected from more than 26,000 submitted entries, that capture the beauty and diversity of the natural world.

Grand Prize – Polar Bear & Cubs (Wapuska National Park, Manitoba, Canada)

Opened last October 24, 2017, this exhibition will run till 2019.

Korea Gallery

The Korea Gallery, a special showcase of 85 objects at the second floor North Corridor, celebrates Korean traditions and examines its unique influence and complex role in the world today.  It expresses the continuity of the past by highlighting enduring features of Korean culture that have influence and resonance today.

Contemporary Korean Art

To communicate and connect to both the local Korean community and an international audience, the exhibit, designed by Reich + Petch, uses the Smithsonian ceramics collection as well as a rich selection of photographs, stone and wooden sculptures, textiles, paintings, ritual objects and traditional Korean carpentry and furniture.

Honoring Family

Traditional art forms, such as ceramics and calligraphy, along with mythological figures, language, large feature photographs and illustrations speak to a range of shared historical memories that connect Koreans at home and abroad.

The Korean Wedding

Personal stories of modern Koreans, as told in their own voices, provide a context to discuss some of the many issues that face the divided country today.

Landscapes of Korea

Korea’s incredible transformation from ‘The Hermit Kingdom’ to a world power is traced through its impact on the arts, the economy and popular culture.

Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt

The Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt Exhibit, at the second floor, West Wing, showcases more mummies than have been on display at any time in the museum’s history. The exhibition combines rare artifacts and cutting-edge research tools to illuminate how Smithsonian scientists have pieced together the lives of ancient Egyptians through their burial practices and rituals in preparation for their eternal life.

The Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution, an exhibit at the second floor (off the Rotunda, above the Mammals Hall) designed by Reich + Retch, innovatively combines a traditional exhibition with experiential learning provided by the live Butterfly Pavilion.  It allows “visitors a rare, up-close look at living butterfly and plant specimens, observing the many ways in which butterflies and other animals have evolved, adapted, and diversified together with their plant partners over tens of millions of years.”

Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a New World – Tyrannosaurus rex

The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a New World Exhibit, at the second floor, tells the story of non-avian dinosaurs’ final years in western North America.  Here, we walked through time to explore scientists’ findings to the questions that help us understand America’s last dinosaurs, their the lives, and their ultimate demise.

Fossil Lab

The FossiLab features a glass-enclosed lab that allows visitors to watch museum paleontologists and trained volunteers extract fossils from rock and make fossil casts and molds.

Elephant Discovery Station

Learning About Elephants, a learning station (added in the mid-2000s) on the second floor balcony, overlooking the “Fényköv Elephant” in the Rotunda, teaches the public about these endangered land mammals and their habitat, an important way to build support for their conservation. 

The 30-year-old, 2,300 sq. m. (25,000 sq. ft.) Dinosaur and Fossil Hall  was closed (since spring of 2014) during our visit as it was then undergoing a US$45 million (US$35 million of which was donated by billionaire David H. Koch on May 2012) upgrade (the largest, most extensive exhibition renovation in the museum’s history) and was anticipated to reopen in 2019.

Skeleton of Triceratops

It consists of 46 “complete and important specimens” of fossilized skeletons and cast models of dinosaurs, including casts of a Tyrannosaurus rex  facing a Triceratops. The Triceratops exhibit, showing the first accurate dinosaur skeleton in virtual motion, was achieved through the use of scanning and digital technology. Its centerpiece is the 11 m. (35-ft.) long, 85% complete skeleton of “Wankel” or “Devil” rex, the first T. rex fossil skeleton owned by the museum (which until now has only had the cast of a skull).  It was  found in 1988 on United States Army Corps of Engineers-owned land in the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana,  was obtained (via a 50-year lease) by the Smithsonian on June 2013 and arrived, packed up in 16 crates, at the National Museum of Natural History on April 15, 2014.

The museum also has an IMAX Theater for feature-length films, and the Discovery Room, a family- and student-friendly hands-on activity room on the first floor.  In the lower level, there is a bird exhibit, Urban Bird Habitat Garden, with all the migratory and native birds to Washington D.C.

Rai (status stone, Yap, quarried 1904 on Palau)

National Museum of Natural History: 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, National MallWashington, D.C. 20560, United States. Open daily (except December 25), 10 AM – 5:30 PM. Admission is free.

Smithsonian National Postal Museum (Washington D.C., USA)

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum, a museum located opposite Union Station in DC’s NoMa neighborhood, was established on November 6, 1990 through a joint agreement between the United States Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution.

Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Opened on July 30, 1993, it is located in the historic historic Beaux Arts-style City Post Office Building, a building that once served as the Main Post Office of Washington, D.C. from 1914 (when it was constructed) until 1986.


Museum entrance along 1st Street

The building, which also serves as the headquarters of the United States Department of Labor‘s Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as a data center for the United States Senate, was designed by the Graham and Burnham architectural firm (the same architectural firm as Union Station), which was led by Ernest Graham following the death of Daniel Burnham in 1912.

Museum lobby.  On the right are the four large video screens

Its historic lobby, restored in 1989, was designed to be active.  It includes a welcome center, and four large video screens with a series of vignettes.

Systems at Work Exhibit recreates the paths of letters, magazines, parcels, and other mail as they travel from sender to recipient over the last 200 years

The museum, honoring and celebrating America’s proud postal history, occupies 100,000 sq. ft. of the building with 35,000 sq. ft. devoted to exhibition space.

Statue of Benjamin Franklin, located in the foyer, done by Lithuanian-born artist William Zorach (ca. 1935)

The  museum’s award winning public spaces, shops and support facilities were designed by the Washington, D.C. firm of Florance Eichbaum Esocoff King Architects while the galleries and inaugural exhibitions were designed by Miles Fridberg Molinaroli, Inc. with Bowie Gridley Architects.

Binding the Nation – Post Secret: The Power of a Postcard (August 3, 2015 – January 1, 2018) – exhibits more than 500 artfully decorated postcards mailed anonymously from around the world

It displays a vast collection of stamps from the National Philatelic Collection, which features more than 5.9 million items (the Smithsonian’s second-largest collection after that of the National Museum of Natural History).  The museum has one of the largest and most significant philatelic and postal history collections in the world and one of the world’s most comprehensive library resources on philately and postal history.

Check out “National Museum of Natural History

Trailblazing: 100 Years of Our National Parks (June 9, 2016 – March 3, 2019) exhibit chronicles intersections between mail and US national parks

It also houses a 6,000 sq. ft. research library (more than 40,000 books and archival documents), a gift shop, a separate stamp shop and many interactive displays about the history of the United States Postal Service and of mail service around the world.

Pony Express: Romance vs Reality examines fictional and actual stories from the history of the world’s best known mail carriers.

Replica of mud wagon that crisscrossed the western territories

It also has informative exhibits, for all ages, on the Pony Express, the use of railroads with the mail and the preserved remains of Owney (the first unofficial postal mascot).

Railway mail train. The Railway Mail Service revolutionized the way mail was processed by sorting mail aboard moving trains.

Interior of train car. Mail previously untouched in bags on train floors was processed as the train sped toward its destination.

An exhibit on direct marketing, called “What’s in the Mail for You,” produces a souvenir envelope with your name printed on it and a coupon for the gift shop.

The preserved remains of Owney, the first unofficial postal mascot, who died from a bullet wound on June 11, 1897. His harness is weighed down by a number of tags.

Bronze statue of Owney

Visitors here learn the fascinating evolution of how Americans have used the mail to communicate with each other and the world.

Mail-carrying stagecoach from 1851

Guests will take a walk through history and see how mail has been transported, in a variety of eye-catching displays, whether it be early automobiles on dirt roads, stagecoaches chugging across the country, prop-planes in the skies above, or being pulled by real horsepower.

Creating Your Own Stamp Design

Visitors will see the diversity of postage from around the globe and also discover the art of stamp making and design, as well as how to start their own collection.

William H. Gross Stamp Gallery

In 2005, the museum acquired John Lennon‘s childhood stamp collection and, on September 2009, the museum received a US$8 million gift from Pimco investment management firm founder William H. Gross  to help finance the expansion of the museum. Every two years, since 2002, the museum has presented the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award.

The 12,000 sq. ft. William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, the largest of its kind dedicated to philately, was named in his honor and opened on September 22, 2013. It houses the first American stamps, from 1847, a piece of mail from the 1860 Pony Express with “recovered from a mail stolen by the Indians” written on the envelope, and the 1918 “Inverted Jenny” with its biplane printed upside down — the most famous U.S. stamp-printing error. 

The author (right) at the atrium

The Postal Museum’s atrium, sporting a 90 ft. high ceiling, has vital objects from the postal past hanging overhead such as 3 airmail planes –  a De Havilland DH-4 airmail plane No. 249; a Wiseman-Cooke airplane and the Stinson Reliant SR-10F.

Stinson Reliant SR-10F was used in 1939 to test a unique airmail service for communities that did not have landing fields.

De Havilland DH-4 airmail plane No. 249 was used in the early 1920s to carry mail primarily in the western U.S. Henry Boonstra crashed this aircraft into a snow covered mountain on December 15, 1922.

Wiseman-Cooke airplane. Fred Wiseman took off in his airplane on February 17, 1911, the first heavier-than air flight sanctioned by a U.S. post office

The room is also adorned with a stagecoach from 1851 and a 1932 Ford Model A postal truck. They can also browse through a 1920s-style post office.

Jandy (right) beside a 1931 Ford Model A postal truck

Among its permanent exhibitions are: “Binding the Nation” (opened July 30, 1993), “Systems at Work” (opened December 14, 2011), “Moving the Mail,” “Mail Call” (opened November 10, 2011), “Customers and Communities” (opened July 30, 1993) and “Pony Express: Romance vs. Reality” (opened April 3, 2010).

Modular post office was in operation in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania from 1913 to 1971. Prefabricated panels, produced by the Federal Equipment Company of New York, New York and Carlisle, Pennsylvania, included one with a designated “Money Order” window, another for “Registry” mail and a third for “General Delivery.” The post office door was marked “Postmaster” and “private.” A separate section offered brass drops for letters, papers and packages.

The 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, dubbed “The World’s Most Famous Stamp,” is on display here through November 2017. 

The 1986 Long Life Vehicle (LLV), a white, boxy postal truck, marked a major change in how postal officials approached buying vehicles

Museum Shop

Smithsonian National Postal Museum: Postal Square Building, 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Tel: (202) 357-2700. Website: Open daily (except December 25), 10 AM – 5:30PM. As a Smithsonian museum, admission is free.The library is open to the public by appointment only.

How to Get There: take the Metro‘s Red Line to Union Station and use the Massachusetts Avenue exit.  The museum is across the street. The DC Circulator also connects the museum and Union Station to the National Mall. Street parking is available nearby and all-day paid parking can be had at Union Station (2,000 slots), located right next to the museum. The museum is accessible by wheelchair, with ramps at its 1st Street entrance and North Capitol Street entrance, via the U.S. Post Office.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington D.C., USA)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, an art museum  sited halfway between the Washington Monument and the US Capitol, anchoring the southernmost end of the so-called L’Enfant axis (perpendicular to the Mall’s green carpet), is part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Interior court and fountain

Conceived as the United States’ museum of contemporary and modern art, it currently focuses its collection-building and exhibition-planning mainly on the post–World War II period, with particular emphasis on art made during the last 50 years. The museum has a budget of US$8 million, which does not include the US$10 to US$12 million in operational support supplied by the Smithsonian Institution.

Geometric Mouse, Variation I, Scale A (Claes Oldenburg, 1971)

The museum was initially endowed, during the 1960s, with the permanent art collection of more than 6,000 items of Joseph H. Hirshhorn (who enjoyed great success from uranium-mining investments), started  in his forties, which consisted of works from classic French Impressionism as well as those by living artists, American modernism of the early 20th century, and sculpture brought from the Hirshhorns’ Connecticut estate and other properties.

Subcommitee (Tony Cragg, 1991, steel)

Here is the museum’s historical timeline:

  • In 1966, an Act of Congress established the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Most of its funding was federal, but Hirshhorn later contributed US$1-million toward its construction.
  • On July 1967, an original plan, with an elongated, sunken rectangle crossing the Mall with a large reflecting pool across the Mall, designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft, was approved.
  • In 1969, groundbreaking takes place on the former site of the Army Medical Museum and Library (built in 1887) after the brick structure was demolished.
  • On July 1, 1971, after excavation was started, a revised design, with a smaller footprint, was approved. The revised design, deliberately stark, using gravel surfaces and minimal plantings to visually emphasize the works of art, also shifted the garden’s Mall orientation from perpendicular to parallel and reduces its size from 8,100 sq. m. (2 acres) to 5,300 sq. m. (1.3 acres).
  • In 1974, the museum was opened with three floors of painting galleries, a fountain plaza for sculpture, and the Sculpture Garden. In the first six months, one million visitors saw the 850-work inaugural show.
  • In the summer of 1979, the Sculpture Garden was closed.
  • In September 1981, the Sculpture Garden was reopened after a renovation and redesign by Lester Collins, a well-known landscape architect and founder of the Innesfree Foundation. The design introduces plantings, paved surfaces, accessibility ramps, and areas of lawn.
  • In 1985, the Museum Shop is moved to the lobby, increasing exhibition space at its former location on the lower level.
  • On December 1991, the Hirshhorn Plaza is closed.
  • In 1993, Hirshhorn Plaza is reopened after a renovation and redesign by landscape architect James Urban. The 11,000 sq. m. (2.7-acre) area around and under the building is repaved in two tones of gray granite, and raised areas of grass and trees are added to the east and west.
  • In 2013, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden drew around 645,000 visitors.
  • In 2014, the Museum Shop is moved back to the lower level.

Museum Shop

Here are some technical information on the museum:

  • The building and its walls were surfaced with precast concrete aggregate of “Swenson” pink granite
  • The building has a diameter of 231 ft., 115 ft. for the interior court and 60 ft. for the fountain.
  • The building is 82 ft. high and elevated 14 ft. on 4 massive, sculptural piers.
  • The museum provides 5,600 sq. m. (60,000 sq. ft.) of exhibition space on three floors inside and nearly 4 acres outside in its two-level Sculpture Garden and plaza for a total of 197,000 sq. ft. of total exhibition space, indoors and outdoors.
  • It has a 274-seat auditorium at the lower level.
  • There are 2.7 acres around and under the museum building.
  • The 1.3-acre Sculpture Garden, across Jefferson Drive, was sunk 6–14 ft. below street level and ramped for accessibility.
  • The second and third floor galleries have 15-ft. high walls, with exposed 3-ft. deep coffered ceilings.
  • The lower level includes exhibition space, storage, workshops, offices while the fourth floor includes offices and storage.

Pumpkin (Yayoi Kusama, 2016)

The building, an open cylinder elevated on four massive “legs,” with a large fountain occupying the central courtyard, itself is an attraction.  The new federal museum’s modern look and intrusively expansive sculptural grounds is a striking contrast to everything else in the city.

Still Life with Spirit and Xtile (Jimmie Durham, 2007)

At the museum entrance is the deceptively simple Still Life with Spirit and Xitle , one of the most well-known works of art by artist Jimmie Durham (a sculptor who is known for his sense of humor and irreverence), features a slapstick disaster scene (intended to capture the clash between industrial and ancient spirits) of a 1992 Chrysler Spirit being crushed by a 9 ton red basalt boulder with a comical smiley face painted on it.

Woman Verso Untitled (Willem de Kooning, 1948)

Woman Before an Eclipse With Her Hair Disheveled by the Wind (Joan Miro, oil on canvas, 1967)

Notable artists in the Hirshhom collection include Pablo PicassoHenri MatisseMary CassattThomas EakinsHenry MooreJackson PollockMark RothkoFranz KlineHans HofmannMorris LouisKenneth NolandJohn ChamberlainFrancis BaconWillem de KooningMilton AveryEllsworth KellyLouise NevelsonArshile GorkyEdward HopperLarry Rivers, and Raphael Soyer among others.

Sleeping Muse I (Constantin Brancusi, 1909-1910, marble)

The Master Works from the Hirshhorn Collection, on view from June 9, 2016 to September 4, 2017, is a new rehanging of the permanent collection galleries at the third-level.  It features more than 75 works in virtually all media, highlights of Joseph Hirshhorn’s original gift, alongside some of the newest additions to the collection.

Untitled – Big Man (Ron Mueck, 2000, pigmented polyester resin on fiberglass)

They include several major artworks returning to view after more than a decade (such as Candian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle’s 1964 Large Triptych), as well as in-depth installations devoted to some of the most important artists in the collection.

Large Triptych (Jean-Paul Riopelle, 1964, oil on canvas)

Dog (Alberto Giacometti, 1951-57)

Exhibited are more than a dozen paintings and works on paper by Dutch abstract expressionist artist Willem de Kooning alongside sculptures by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, two of the 20th century’s greatest figurative artists.

Eleven A.M. (Edward Hopper, 1928, oil on canvas)

The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire (Ed Ruscha, 1965-68, oil on canvas)

Other cornerstones of the collection on view are Constantin Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse I (1909–10), Edward Hopper’s Eleven A.M. (1926), Edward Ruscha’s The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire (1965–68), French-American artist Louise Bourgeois’ Legs (1986/cast 2008) and Australian sculptor Ron Mueck’s Untitled (Big Man) (2000).

Window (Gerhard Richter, 1968, oil on canvas)

The End of Ending (Eduardo Basualdo, 2012)

In an adjacent room is The End of Ending (2012), a massive sculptural installation by Argentinian artist Eduardo Basualdo which occupies all but a sliver of walkable space in a gallery. R.S.V.P. X (1976/2014), the performative sculpture  by African-American Senga Nengudi (among a group of artists in 1970’s Los Angeles who explored conceptual art in their pursuit of a distinctly African-American aesthetic), also appears at the museum for the first time.

Spearfishing (Peter Doig, 2013)

Siren of the Niger (Wilfredo Lam, 1950, oil and charcoal on canvas)

The exhibition is augmented by a special loan of Scottish painter Peter Doig’s painting Spearfishing (2013), which hangs alongside richly colored canvases by British figurative painter Francis Bacon, American painter Richard Diebenkorn and Cuban artist Wifredo Lam.

Field for Skyes (Joan Mitchell, 1973, oil on canvas)

1962-D (Clyfford Still, oil on canvas)

Some of the most recent additions to the Hirshhorn’s collection are represented by new cultural histories. O Abuso da História  (The Abuse of History, 2014) is a video, by Brazil-based Mexican artist Héctor Zamora, of a riotously destructive group performance at São Paulo’s historic Hospital Matarazzo.

From Continent to Continent (Mario Merz, 1985)

Iris, Messenger of the Gods (Auguste Rodin)

Cuban artist Reynier Leyva Novo’s 5 Nights (2014), from his series “The Weight of History,” in the Lerner Room (overlooking the National Mall), maps revolutionary 20th-century manifestos by Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, and Muammar Gaddafi to conceptual monochromes, based on the amount of ink spilled in the writing of each text.

Markus Lupertz: Threads of History

The Markus Lupertz: Threads of History Exhibit, from May 24 to September 10, 2017, celebrates the pioneering early works of Markus Lüpertz (b. Liberec, Czech Republic, 1941), one of the most influential contemporary German artists who initiated a return to figurative painting during the late 1970s and 1980s, with an in-depth exploration of his groundbreaking paintings from the 1960s and 1970s.

Westwall – Siegfried Line (1968, distemper on canvas)

This exhibition brings more than 30 paintings to the National Mall including the 40-ft. long Westwall (Siegfried Line), a large-scale work on view for the first time in the US.

Tent – Dithyrambic (1965)

Motif – Dithyrambic II

Idyll IV (1969)

It coincides with The Phillips Collection’s exhibition Markus Lupertz (May 27 to September 3, 2017), which spans the artist’s entire career. Together, the two presentations form Lupertz’s first major US museum retrospective.

Our View from Here (Linn Meyers, 2016)

The Linn Meyers: Our View from Here Exhibition, from May 12, 2016 to August 13, 2017, creates the site-specific wall drawing Our View from Here, the largest work, to date, of American artist Linn Meyers (b. Washington, DC, 1968). Occupying the entire circumference of the inner ring galleries, it covers nearly 400 linear feet. This temporary drawing will be painted over at the end of the exhibition’s yearlong run.

Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn

Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn Exhibit, a collaborative artist project from June 28, 2017 to January 1, 2018, features the East Coast debut of the monumental installation Trace, which portrays 176 individuals, from more than 30 countries (the majority of whom are from Asia and the Middle East) whom Ai Weiwei (b. Beijing, 1957), one of China’s most provocative living artists, and various human rights groups consider to be activists, prisoners of conscience, and advocates of free speech who have been detained, exiled, or have sought political asylum because of their actions, beliefs or affiliations.

Ai Weiwei

The work foregrounds Ai Weiwei’s own experiences of incarceration, interrogation, and surveillance. In 2011, he was detained by the Chinese government for 81 days and then, until 2015, prohibited from traveling abroad.  Each of these portraits, comprising thousands of plastic Lego bricks, were assembled by hand and laid out on the floor.

Trace.  On the right wall is the 360-degree wallpaper installation entitled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca

Complementing the display of Trace is a new 360-degree wallpaper installation entitled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca. At first glance, the repeating graphic pattern looks merely decorative.  However, at closer inspection, it reveals surveillance cameras, handcuffs, and Twitter bird logos (which allude to Ai Weiwei’s tweets challenging authority). Together, both massive works span nearly 700 linear feet around the Hirshhorn’s second floor Outer Ring galleries.

The Last Conversation Piece (Juan Munoz, 1994-95, bronze)

The Sculpture Garden, outside the museum, features works by artists including Auguste RodinDavid SmithAlexander CalderJean-Robert IpoustéguyJeff Koons, and others. A permanent installation and a major attraction, since 2007, in the Sculpture Garden is Yoko Ono‘s famous Wish Tree for Washington, DC.

Are Years What? (Mark di Suvero)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: 700 Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW, National Mall, Washington, D.C. 20560, United States.  Website: Admission is free.  Open daily, 10 AM – 5:30 PM.

National Air and Space Museum (Washington D.C., U.S.A.)

National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) of the Smithsonian Institution is a must-see for visitors to Washington, DC. Established August 12, 1946 as the National Air Museum, it opened at its main building on the National Mall near L’Enfant Plaza in 1976.

It is a center for research into the history and science of aviation, spaceflight, planetary science, terrestrial geology and geophysics. Allow at least 2-3 hours to explore the exhibits.

Continuum of the late Charles O. Perry

Here are some interesting trivia regarding this museum:

  • It holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world.
  • In 2014, the museum saw approximately 6.7 million visitors, making it the fifth most visited museum in the world.
  • It is the largest of 19 museums included in the Smithsonian Institution.

Lockheed F-104A Starfighter at the second floor concourse

The museum features 22 exhibition galleries, displaying hundreds of artifacts. Many of the exhibits are interactive and great for kids. Almost all space and aircraft on display are either originals or the original backup craft.

Boeing Milestones of Flight – the main hall of the museum

Designed by St. Louis-based architect Gyo Obata of HOK , the museum, its mass similar to the National Gallery of Art and using the same pink Tennessee marble, was built by Gilbane Building Company and opened on July 1, 1976 at the height of the United States Bicentennial festivities.

The Mercury Friendship 7 and Gemini IV capsules

It has four simple marble-encased cubes containing the smaller and more theatrical exhibits, connected by three spacious steel-and-glass atria which house the larger exhibits such as missiles, airplanes and spacecraft. The west glass wall of the building, used for the installation of airplanes, also functions as a giant door. On display outside is “Continuum,” a curving metal map of the universe one by the late Charles O. Perry.

Bell X-1

The Boeing Milestones of Flight Gallery, the museum’s main hall, was reopened in July 2016. This expanded exhibition traces the interconnected stories of the world’s most significant aircraft, rockets, and spacecraft in history, milestones which have made our planet smaller and the universe larger, with digital displays and a mobile experience in a new design that stretches from one entrance to the other.

Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis

North American Aviation Inc. X-15A 56-6670 hypersonic research rocketplane

SS-20 and Pershing II ICBM Missiles

They also tell tales of ingenuity and courage, war and peace, politics and power, as well as society and culture.

Bell XP-59A Airacomet

Mock-up of Lunar Module

The displays, taking full advantage of the atrium’s two-storey height, includes the huge Apollo Lunar Module; the Telstar satellite; the model of the “Starship Enterprise” used in the Star Trek television series;, the Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis  (where Charles Lindbergh’s made his solo trip across the Atlantic); the Bell XP-59A Airacomet (the first American jet aircraft); the Bell X-1 (in which Chuck Yeager first broke the mythical “sound barrier”); the North American X-15 (the fastest aircraft ever flown); the Mercury Friendship 7 capsule (flown by John Glenn); the Mariner, Pioneer, and Viking planetary explorers; and SpaceShipOne (the first privately-developed, piloted vehicle to reach space). You can even touch a Moon rock.

The author touching a piece of the Moon

Jandy with the model of the Star Trek Starship Enterprise

The Space Race Gallery tells about that U.S.-Soviet Union space rivalry and its aftermath, from the military origins of the Space Race, through the race to the Moon and the development of reconnaissance satellites, to cooperative ventures between the two former rivals and efforts to maintain a human presence in space.

German V2 Rocket

Yuri Gagarin’s Space Suit

John Glenn’s Space Suit

Hubble Space Telescope

Some of the items on display include a German V-1 “buzz bomb” and V-2 missile, Soviet and U.S. spacecraft and space suits, a Skylab Orbital Workshop, and a full-size test version of the Hubble Space Telescope.

1970 Northrop M2-F3 CN 1

Apollo–Soyuz Test Project

V-1 Buzz Bomb

The Apollo to the Moon Gallery has an unparalleled display of artifacts from the Apollo and earlier missions with displays that range from a huge F-1 rocket engine, a scale model of the Saturn V rocket, spacesuits worn by Apollo astronauts on the Moon to space food and personal items that astronauts took into space.

Saturn V Rocket Engine

Lunar Roving Vehicle

The America by Air Gallery, exploring the history of air transportation in the United States, shows how the federal government has shaped the airline industry, how improvements in technology have revolutionized air travel, and how the flying experience has changed.

The nose section of a DC-7

Boeing 747 Forward Fuselage

Highlights include a Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor, Boeing 247, and Douglas DC-3 airliners; a cockpit simulation of an Airbus A320; and a nose from a Boeing 747 jumbo jet that you can enter.

Ford 5-AT-B Trimotor

Douglas DC-3

Boeing 247-D

The Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery, having to do with people who pushed the existing technological or social limits of flight, contains an impressive, eclectic assortment of aircraft and exhibits, each representing an unprecedented feat, a barrier overcome or a pioneering step.

Douglas World Cruiser Chicago

Fokker T-2

Things to see here include the Fokker T-2 (the airplane that made the first nonstop, coast-to-coast flight across the United States); the Douglas World Cruiser Chicago (which completed the first round-the-world flight); a Lockheed Model 8 Sirius (flown by Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh), a Lockheed Vega (flown by Amelia Earhart); the Explorer II high-altitude balloon gondola; and “Black Wings,” an exhibit on African Americans and aviation.

Lockheed Model 8 Sirius

Explorer II high-altitude balloon gondola

Lockheed Vega 5B of Amelia Earhart

The Explore the Universe Gallery shows how our ideas about the Universe evolved as we developed new astronomical instruments. It presents the Universe as discerned by the naked eye, then shows how the telescope, photography, spectroscopy, and digital technology revolutionized our view. The largest section describes what astronomers today think about the nature of the Universe. Among the many amazing treasures on display are an Islamic astrolabe from 10 centuries ago; the actual telescope tube from William Herschel‘s 20-foot telescope; the observing cage from the Mount Wilson Observatory‘s 100-inch Hooker Telescope; and the backup mirror for the Hubble Space Telescope.

World War II Aviation Gallery

Supermarine Spitfire HF.MK.VIIc

The World War II Aviation Gallery focuses on land-based fighter aviation.  Fortresses Under Fire, a Keith Ferris mural filling an entire wall, features  a B 17 Flying Fortress, with contrails streaming behind it, roaring out of a clear blue sky. 

Mitsubishi A6M5 Reisen (Zero Fighter)

North American P-51D Mustang

The mural serves as a backdrop for five fighter planes – a British Supermarine Spitfire, German Messerschmitt Bf 109, Italian Macchi C.202 Folgore, U.S. North American P-51 Mustang and a Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G (1)

Aeronautica Macchi C.202 Folgore

Also on exhibit are engines, bombs, armament, ammunition, aircrew and service uniforms from several nations, and personal memorabilia.

Artist Soldiers Exhibit

The Artist Soldiers exhibition, a collaboration between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of American History, examines this form of artistic expression from two complementary perspectives – one from professional artists who were recruited by the U.S. Army and served in the American Expeditionary Force (the first true combat artists) and the other from soldiers who created artwork.

Together, these works of art of soldiers shed light on World War I in a compelling and very human way by first-hand participants.

The Exploring the Planets Gallery takes you on a tour of this remarkable realm, as seen and sensed by the Voyagers and other robotic explorers. Initial sections present some historical highlights and show the various means we use to study other worlds. Sections devoted to each planet form the core of the gallery.

The author with the Blériot XI monoplane

The gaily decorated Early Flight Gallery, celebrating the first decade of flight, evokes the atmosphere of the fictitious Smithsonian Aeronautical Exposition of 1913, an aviation exhibition from that period. The gallery is crammed with fabric-covered aerial vehicles, some fanciful, most real, along with trade show–style exhibits featuring cutting-edge technology of the day.

Swedenborg Flying Machine

The Chanute Gliders

They include a rare 1894 Lilienthal glider; Samuel P. Langley’s Aerodrome #5 and Quarter-Scale Aerodrome (powered, unmanned vehicles that successfully flew in 1896 and 1903); the 1909 Wright Military Flyer (the world’s first military airplane, it is the most original and complete of the museum’s three Wright airplanes); a Curtiss Model D “Headless Pusher,” an Ecker Flying Boat, and a Blériot XI monoplane.

Curtiss D-III Headless Pusher

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) Gallery, made possible through the generosity of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., showcases six modern military UAVs that represent a variety of missions and technologies.

Boeing X-45A

They range from large vehicles that can carry offensive weapons to a miniature system whose components are light and compact enough to be carried in a Marine’s backpack.

AAI RQ-7 Shadow UAV

The Golden Age of Flight Gallery features the 1920s and ’30s, the period between the two world wars that saw airplanes evolve from wood-and-fabric biplanes to streamlined metal monoplanes. The military services embraced air power and aviation came of age. Air races and daring record-setting flights dominated the news and aircraft displayed here include planes used for racing and record setting such as Howard Hughes‘ sleek, record-setting Hughes H-1 Racer, the Wittman Buster midget racer (hanging near the entrance) and the Curtiss J-1 Robin Ole Miss (which stayed aloft for 27 days).  There are also planes for business travel (Beechcraft C17L Staggerwing) and exploration (the Northrop Gamma 2B Polar Star, which traversed Antarctica).

MQ-1L Predator A

The How Things Fly Gallery, devoted to explaining the basic principles that allow aircraft and spacecraft to fly, emphasizes “hands-on,” with dozens of exhibits inviting you to push, pull, press, lift, slide, handle, touch, twist, turn, spin, bend, and balance. Here you can discover for yourself answers to things you’ve always wondered about flight. You can explore the nature of gravity and air; how wings work; supersonic flight; aircraft and rocket propulsion; flying in space; and more.

1903 Wright Flyer

The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age Gallery  celebrates the centennial of the Wright brothers‘ historic flights.  It has, as its centerpiece, the 1903 Wright Flyer, the world’s first successful airplane and historic craft that ushered in the age of flight, displayed on the floor. 

The first part of this exhibition tells the story of how Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the airplane—who they were, how they worked, and what they accomplished.

The second part shows how their monumental achievement affected the world in the decade that followed, when people everywhere became fascinated with flight. The exhibition includes many historic photographs and cultural artifacts, along with instruments and personal items associated with the Wrights.

The Moving Beyond Earth Gallery, an immersive exhibition, places visitors “in orbit” in the shuttle and space-station era to explore recent human spaceflight and future possibilities. An expansive view of the Earth as viewed from the space station drifts over one gallery wall, while a fly-around tour of the International Space Station fills another wall. A presentation stage for live events, broadcasts, and webcasts at the center of the gallery serves as the platform for Space Flight Academy, a group quiz game where visitors can test their space smarts and become “flight ready.”

Time and Navigation Gallery

Lockheed 5C Vega – Winnie Mae

The Time and Navigation Gallery explores how revolutions in timekeeping over three centuries have influenced how we find our way.

Model of USS Enterprise

The Sea-Air Operations Gallery, at the quarterdeck of the mythical aircraft carrier USS Smithsonian, a scaled-down re-creation of a hangar deck bay, has surrounding structures and equipment that are from actual aircraft carriers.

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless

You can poke around in a ready room, a combined living room and briefing area, or go upstairs and visit the navigation bridge and PriFly, the ship’s air traffic control center. From these two rooms you can watch “cat shots” and “traps” (takeoffs and landings) filmed on a U.S. Navy carrier.

Douglas A-4C Skyhawk

Balconies overlook the four carrier aircraft in the hangar bay – a Boeing F4B-4 biplane, Grumman F4F Wildcat, Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless, and Douglas A-4C Skyhawk. Also here are exhibits on carrier warfare in World War II and on modern carrier aviation.

Boeing F4B-4

The Looking at Earth Gallery, exploring the technology of aerial and space observation and its many uses, displays aircraft and spacecraft and examples of the photographic and imaging devices used on them.

Lockheed U-2C

De Havilland DH-4

Throughout the exhibition are countless images taken from above, some are historic; others show scientific, military, or civil applications; others are simply beautiful. All allow us to examine the familiar from unfamiliar perspectives.

GOES Weather Satellite

Highlights include a De Havilland DH-4 (a World War I aircraft used for aerial observation and photography); a Lockheed U-2 (designed for Cold War aerial surveillance); personal objects of Soviet-captured U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers; and several generations of weather satellites. A “What’s New” section displays frequently updated images of current interest taken of our planet from space.

US Pilot Survival Kit

The Lunar Exploration Vehicles Gallery displays a constellation of vehicles used for lunar exploration. Dominating the space is a real lunar module, the second one built for the Apollo program. The orbital test flight of the first lunar module proved so successful that a second test flight was deemed unnecessary. The lunar module displayed here was used instead for ground testing. Six more like it landed astronauts on the Moon.

Engineering Model of Clementine

A series of unmanned lunar spacecraft preceded the manned missions. These robotic explorers transmitted images of the Moon, inspected its surface, and searched for Apollo landing sites.

Ranger Spacecraft

Examples of the three types of space probes involved in that effort—Ranger, Surveyor, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter—hang above the lunar module, along with a more recent lunar explorer: the Moon-mapping spacecraft Clementine.

Lunar Orbiter

The Legend, Memory and the Great War in the Air Gallery reexamines aviation during World War I and contrasts romance with reality, with displays of popular culture showing how some of these myths were passed on.

German Aircraft Factory

Model of the Hindenburg

Other exhibits examine the many new roles aircraft played during the war, from battlefield reconnaissance to strategic bombing.

Pfalz D.XII

Albatross D.Va

Fokker D.VII

The gallery features several rare airplanes such as the German Pfalz D.XII, Albatros D.Va, and Fokker D.VII fighters; a British Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe fighter; and a French SPAD S.XIII fighter and Voisin VIII bomber.

Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe

Voisin Type 8

Spad XIII Smith IV

The Jet Aviation Gallery traces the development of jet technology and features many important turbojet engines introduced over four decades, along with three airplanes that helped usher in the jet age – the German Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe (the world’s first operational jet fighter),  the Lockheed XP-80 “Shooting Star” Lulu Belle (the prototype for the first full-production, operational U.S. jet fighter) and McDonnell FH-1 Phantom (the first jet fighter used by the Navy and Marine Corps).

McDonnell FH-1 Phantom

Lockheed XP-80 “Shooting Star” nicknamed Lulu Belle

Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a nicknamed Schwalbe (German for “Swallow”)

The Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater, with its five-storey-high screen with six-channel digital surround sound, take you on a journey through space or to natural and manmade wonders of the world.

Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket on display outside of the Lockheed Martin IMAX® Theater

The Albert Einstein Planetarium, with its high tech dual digital projection system, Sky Vision, takes you on a 20-minute tour of the universe. The museum’s three-storey gift shop is a great place to find memorable souvenirs and gifts. A food court- style restaurant is open daily from 10 AM to 5PM.

Museum Shop

National Air and Space Museum: 600 Independence Ave. at 6th St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20560, USA.  Tel: +1 202-633-2214. Open aily (except December 25), 10 AM – 5:30 PM. Website:

General Admission: free.  The 4-minute flight simulator rides cost US$6.50 per ride. IMAX movies and the Planetarium each cost US$9 per adult or US$7 per child. Shows often sell out, so purchase your tickets before viewing the rest of the museum. Tickets can be purchased in advance at (877) WDC-IMAX. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, new security measures have been created, with extensive queues  extending outside the building.

How to Get There: The closest Metro stations are Smithsonian and L’Enfant Plaza.