The Museum started its annual training sessions for Constitution’s crew in partnership with Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. This annual 13-week series of sessions supports the interpretative efforts of Constitution’s crewmembers and Museum staff in engaging diverse audiences that visit “Old Ironsides” and the Museum. Interpreting Constitution training is part of the All Aboard Initiative, made possible thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The 40th annual Masters of Miniature Model Ship Show featured the “Best of the Best” models from the past five years in addition to many new entries from members of the Model Guild.
In 2019, the Museum added three new features to the LEGO® Maritime Festival: a USS Constitution LEGO® kit to build on-site, a “Ship Shape Competition” for the best LEGO® model, and use of the theater exhibit cases to display visitors’ creations. Between Saturday and Wednesday of school vacation week, over 200 visitors entered their models in the Ship Shape Competition to win a LEGO® Ship in a Bottle kit. The 2019 festival was generously sponsored by the Charlestown Impact Fund.
The Museum and USS Constitution commemorated Consitution‘s 1815 victory over HMS Cyane and HMS Levant with a ceremony on the spar deck of “Old Ironsides.” Carl Herzog, the Museum’s Public Historian, spoke on behalf of the Museum at the ceremony. City Councilor Lydia Edwards attended the ceremony and then toured the Museum.
The Museum hosted New York Times bestselling author Adam Makos to launch his new book, Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II. While Adam was the evening’s featured speaker, Clarence Smoyer, the hero of Makos’ book, stole the show when he arrived in the Navy Yard that afternoon on a World War II Sherman tank. Clarence was greeted by a crowd as he rode up Constitution Road from the Residence Inn Boston Harbor on Tudor Wharf on a tank provided by the Collings Foundation in Stow, MA.
Museum Life Trustee Professor Bob Allison gave a fascinating talk on USS Constitution’s World Cruise in 1844–the Ship’s first and only circumnavigation–including highlights from the Ship’s 24 ports of call.
The Museum website, usscm.org, was fully redesigned featuring a fresh look and simplified user experience. New content and features included interpretive connections to other sites in the Navy Yard, highlights from the collection, biographical profiles of the Ship’s crew, interactive maps of the War of 1812 battle cruises, and a growing menu of publications, videos, and educational resources.
This hands-on workshop looked at the principles of using the sun and stars to find your way, while exploring how those methods changed over the centuries of global exploration. Central to the discussion was a comparison of how European methods differed so much from those created in the Pacific Islands and Indian Ocean. The event included handling some sextants and other tools, as well as looking at nautical charts and ways to learn more. There were about 30 participants (27 registered attendees and a few walk-ins) for this live event.
The Museum hosted a Leadership Speaker Series breakfast with RDML Jesse Wilson, Commander Naval Surface Force Atlantic. The breakfast began with the observance of morning colors onboard Constitution followed by the breakfast and talk in the Museum’s Education Center. Admiral Wilson provided a compelling “insider’s view” of Pentagon leadership, followed by an engaging question and answer session.
The Museum opened Today’s Crew: USS Constitution, a new temporary exhibit in the Education Center. This new exhibit allows visitors to meet the active-duty crew members serving aboard USS Constitution today. Through candid video interviews and vibrant photographs, visitors learn from the crew, in their own words, what it is like being in the U.S. Navy, spending time away from their families, and working aboard the oldest commissioned warship afloat.
The Museum is part of the Place-Based Boston collaborative of historical sites which offers a summer professional development opportunity for Boston Public School teachers every year. In 2019, the Museum hosted 11 teachers and presented a panel discussion with four female crewmembers from USS Constitution, as well as a session titled “Collaborative Programming: Teaching & Learning in the Charlestown Navy Yard.”
Thanks to funding from Liberty Mutual Insurance, Boston Public School (BPS) students are offered free field trips and transportation to the Museum. The funding has allowed the Museum to see large growth in the number of BPS students served.
The Museum hosted its annual Salute to Maritime Heritage Reception in September 2019. The Samuel Eliot Morison Award and Don Turner Award recipients made brief presentations and remarks in the Museum’s theater, followed by evening colors and the award presentations on the spar deck of Constitution. The Museum presented Naval historian and best-selling author, Ian Toll, with the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for his best-seller, Six Frigates, and WWII trilogy. Schooner Ernestina Morrissey Association received the Don Turner Award for their work restoring the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey, a National Historic Landmark and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ official vessel.
At the start of the 2019 academic year, the Museum and USS Constitution hosted an underway honoring more than 250 educators from across New England. In attendance was special guest and “Men of Iron” award honoree, Marvin Gilmore, a decorated World War II veteran and social justice leader. The 2019 Educator Underway was a part of the All Aboard Initiative, made possible thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The National Park Service, USS Constitution Museum, and the U.S. Navy hosted a public meeting where leaders presented planning efforts underway for the Charlestown Navy Yard and the “Visitor Experience Plan,” a community-engaged and collaborative effort to redevelop the Navy Yard.
Staff continued to prototype new academic and family programs in Year 3 of the All Aboard initiative. Thanks to this multi-year IMLS-funded project, USS Constitution has become an extension of the Museum classroom as programs now include time on board the Ship and are co-facilitated by an active-duty crewmember.
The USS Constitution Museum had the distinct honor of hosting the retirement ceremony for General Joseph Dunford, who recently served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Originally scheduled to take place aboard “Old Ironsides,” General Dunford decided to move the ceremony inside due to the inclement weather, allowing his parents to participate. The ceremony included music performed by the U.S. Marine Corps Band, “The President’s Own,” and the presentation of colors by the Marine Corps Honor Guard from Washington, DC. Following the ceremony, Museum President, Anne Grimes Rand, presented General Dunford with a copper medallion featuring an image of Constitution’s bombardment of Tripoli.
The Museum had the honor to host Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and his wife Polly for a special breakfast before USS Constitution got underway to celebrate the Ship’s and the U.S. Navy’s birthday on October 18. During his talk, Secretary Spencer linked the history of the U.S. Navy to its present and future.
The Museum collaborated with USO New England and the crew of USS Constitution to host 500 military families for the 5th annual Harvest Happening event. This tradition is a favorite of staff and families alike, where families have dinner, create Halloween-inspired crafts in the Museum, and go trick-or-treating on board “Old Ironsides.”
An enthusiastic group of nearly 700 Museum family and friends gathered at the Seaport World Trade Center to honor Governor Charlie Baker with the Charles Francis Adams Award and Medal of Honor recipient CAPT Thomas G. Kelley, USN (Ret.) with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The 2019 Gala was the best ever, with more than 140 sponsors generating over $650,000 in gross revenue to support the Museum’s mission. Trustees Bill Carey, Dennis Langwell, and Mary Beth Sandman received awards for their service to the Museum.
The Museum was pleased to welcome World War II Marine veteran, Larry Kirby, as the guest speaker for the annual LT William S. Bush Memorial Breakfast. Kirby served in the 3rd Marine Division on Bougainville, Guam, and Iwo Jima. He spoke about the sense of brotherhood shared by those in the service. He talked about the men he served alongside during War World II, remembering the many comrades he lost during the war every day since then.
The Museum partnered with the National Parks of Boston and the City of Boston’s Department of Veterans Services for the annual Pearl Harbor attack commemoration ceremony. Museum President Anne Grimes Rand, Superintendent Michael Creasey, and David Wu from the City of Boston Veteran’s Services department offered welcoming remarks. Museum Life Trustee, best-selling author, and historian William Martin served as the guest speaker, sharing reflections from visits to Pearl Harbor and the experience of visiting the memorials that remain in the harbor today. Following the program at the Museum, guests processed to USS Cassin Young, led by Constitution’s color guard, for brief remarks, a wreath laying, 21-gun salute, and the playing of Taps.