The Museum hosted the 41st annual Masters of Miniature Model Ship Show in partnership with the USS Constitution Model Shipwright Guild. Once a week during the show, professional modeler Rob Napier continued work to restore the Loring model of Constitution. The 2020 Model Show was sponsored by the Boston Marine Society.
The Museum welcomed 75 veterans for after-hours visits as part of a new partnership with Home Base’s Intensive Clinical Program.
During February school vacation week, the Museum welcomed over 6,000 visitors who enjoyed the Museum’s exhibits, Masters of Miniature Model Ship Show, and created their own miniature ships during the LEGO® Maritime Festival.
The Museum hosted a Hail & Farewell reception to thank CDR Nate Shick and welcome CDR John Benda back to Constitution.
The Museum closed to the public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. While the physical building closed to the public, staff immediately committed to turning the Museum “Inside-Out” and sharing Constitution’s story virtually.
To serve students at home and the public working remotely, the USS Constitution Museum launched the Virtual Museum, a robust outreach initiative with numerous digital opportunities for visitor engagement. The Museum drew on its leadership in audience engagement and its expertise as the definitive source for information related to USS Constitution and the Ship’s crew. Every day, the Museum disseminates dynamic content related to Constitution through its social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, and website usscm.org. Through new blog posts, in-depth research publications, artifact highlights, crew profiles, original videos, and interactive educational webpages, the Museum continues to seamlessly engage with its virtual audience in new and exciting ways. Nearly 1,000 adults and children signed up for live virtual programs, in addition to the thousands who viewed programs and other content online.
The Museum launched a new Historian at Home video series, featuring Museum Public Historian Carl Herzog, discussing topics related to the history of “Old Ironsides” and life at sea. These short, 10–15-minute videos highlight topics such as: navigation, life at sea, games, food, Ship’s boys, packing for sea, and education. Each of the more than 20 videos encourages the audience to engage with elements of the Museum’s online resources including blog articles, the online collections, the “Old Ironsides” Activity Book, and the A Sailor’s Life for Me website. The Historian at Home video series was made possible by a National Endowment for the Humanities: CARES Act Grant.
The Museum launched its award-winning online game, A Sailor’s Life for Me, just in time to meet the need for digital activities. Players perform a series of life at sea activities such as firing a cannon, bringing powder to a gun, whacking rats in the hold, and navigating Constitution in and out of harbor all while advancing from the rank of Boy to Able Bodied Seaman. Originally launched in 2012 as part of the War of 1812 Bicentennial, the Museum worked with Green Door Labs in Boston to update and modernize the original game created by EduWeb. The project was supported by grants from the Ruby W. & LaVon P. Linn Foundation; Institute of Museum & Library Services; National Maritime Heritage Grant Funding; United States Navy Office of Commemorations, Navy History & Heritage Command; and National Endowment for the Humanities.
In response to the need for digital learning resources, the Education Department introduced a new Educator Resource page on the Museum website. This reorganized page categorized the Museum’s wealth of digitized primary sources, scholarly articles, videos, and new lesson plans into thematic kits for K-12 educators to utilize in remote learning. From the launch of the Virtual Museum in mid-March through the rest of 2020, the Educator Resource page received over 2,100 views.
The Museum Learning team launched a new weekly online program series called A Sailor’s Life, Live! These live webinars, led by Education Manager Emily Bryant and Assistant Education Manager Sarah Dunbar, featured a USS Constitution sailor streaming live aboard “Old Ironsides.” Each week featured a different topic related to life at sea, such as sailor’s chores or sea superstitions. The sessions highlight objects from the Museum’s collection and related at-home activities available on the Museum’s website. A Sailor’s Life, Live! was supported by an Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America Grant and National Endowment for the Humanities: CARES Act Grant.
The USS Constitution Museum hosted a discussion of the cult classic film, Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World. Carl Herzog, Public Historian, and Jennifer Zanolli, Manager of Interpretation & Visitor Services, shared their favorite clips from the movie, relevant historical information, movie trivia, and discussed the larger themes of leadership, duty, friendship, and sacrifice shown in the film.
The Museum hosted a virtual conversation with best-selling author Ben Mezrich about his popular novella, ‘The Mechanic,’ published in The Boston Globe. USS Constitution was among the many historic sites throughout Boston featured in the story.
America’s Ship of State, USS Constitution, and the USS Constitution Museum hosted a joint virtual Independence Day celebration. Programming on July 4 included a 21-gun salute aboard “Old Ironsides,” trivia contest, and a special Ship tour with Carl Herzog, the Museum’s Public Historian and host of Historian at Home. The Museum set up a special webpage with additional activities and offered local families Alka-Seltzer® cannons to fire at-home. The Virtual Fourth of July Celebration was made possible by a National Endowment for the Humanities: CARES Act Grant.
The Museum reopened at 12 noon on Saturday, August 8 and following that day, remained open Thursdays-Sundays from 10am-5pm. Staff created a one-way traffic flow through the galleries by installing an entry gate, adding plexiglass barriers down the center of the corridor, and posting signage throughout the galleries. The Museum implemented timed ticketing to manage the number of visitors in the building and enhanced cleaning protocols.
The Museum hosted a virtual panel discussion moderated by Public Historian, Carl Herzog, about Constitution’s history of protecting maritime commerce and how that legacy is reflected in the deployments of U.S. Navy ships around the world today. Museum Life Trustee Bob Allison, Professor of History at Suffolk University, joined James Holmes, from the U.S. Naval War College and Rockford Weitz, from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy as panelists. This panel discussion was made possible by a National Endowment for the Humanities: CARES Act Grant.
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, in-person and virtually.
Staff continue to prototype new academic and family programs as part 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.
USS Constitution and the USS Constitution Museum celebrated the 223rd birthday of the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world with a virtual program highlighting pivotal moments in USS Constitution’s history, launching a special Museum project with Boston Public School students, announcing a special birthday gift (the rare and significant Sever collection), and firing a 21-gun salute from the Ship. This virtual birthday celebration was made possible by a National Endowment for the Humanities: CARES Act Grant.
The USS Constitution Museum acquired at auction an outstanding collection of significant correspondence related to the first years of USS Constitution’s career under sail. The collection, encompassing more than 150 individual documents, sheds light on the fledgling U.S. Navy’s participation in the nation’s first international conflict, the Quasi-War with France. This lot had remained in private hands for over 225 years. It is exceedingly rare, and both the size and scope of the collection are extraordinary. This collection belonged to Capt. James Sever, first commander of USS Congress, one of the initial six frigates constructed at the same time as Constitution in the 1790s.
The Museum’s inaugural miniboats were ceremonially launched as part of the Ship’s virtual 223rd birthday celebration. These boats were built in winter of 2020 by 4th grade Boston Public School students at neighboring Harvard-Kent elementary school. These 5-foot unmanned sailboats are now far beyond Boston Harbor in the Gulf Stream, and GPS trackers allow the students to follow their boats’ journeys across the Atlantic. The 2020 miniboat program was supported in part by Liberty Mutual Insurance.
A pandemic couldn’t stop this annual tradition! Over 550 military family members came out in costume for a drive-through version of the annual Harvest Happenings event. As part of the festivities, all attendees received a free activity booklet from the Museum. Harvest Happenings is a part of the Salute to Service Initiative, made possible thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Manager of Interpretation & Visitor Services, Jennifer Zanolli, and Education Coordinator, Shannon Skilling, hosted a virtual Spooktacular Game Night. The event featured four different games including a dance game, gross trivia, superstition scavenger hunt, and an artifact zoom-in challenge. The Spooktacular Game Night was made possible by a National Endowment for the Humanities: CARES Act Grant.
On Veterans Day, the Museum hosted a virtual program in collaboration with American Humane that highlighted the invaluable service of military working dogs (MWD) in the armed forces. The panel discussion moderated by Anne Grimes Rand featured three service members with their retired MWDs and American Humane Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Lesa Staubus. Veterans with Paws was supported by an Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America Grant and National Endowment for the Humanities CARES Act Grant.
On Wednesday, November 18, hundreds of supporters, members, and friends joined the Museum online for its Salute to Service Virtual Leadership Speaker Series. During the event, we honored Col. Nicole Malachowski (USAF, Ret.), the first female Thunderbird, and heard her story of resilience and perseverance while navigating turbulent times. Generous donors and sponsors provided over $300,000 in support for this event and the Ship’s Virtual Birthday Party. Thanks to Museum Trustee Dennis Langwell and Liberty Mutual Insurance for their presenting sponsorship and support for the Museum.
The USS Constitution Museum temporarily closed on November 21 to minimize spread of COVID-19. The Virtual Museum experience, launched in March 2020, continued offering robust and engaging content for all digital visitors. The online Museum Store remained open as well.
This conversation explored the history and experiences of foreign-born sailors on USS Constitution and in the broader U.S. Navy from the nation’s founding to today. Speakers included Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, Associate Professor of History, Spatial Sciences, and Law, University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and author of Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution; LS3 Jason Petit-Frere, USS Constitution; and Carl Herzog, Public Historian, USS Constitution Museum. International Sailors for the Nation’s Ship was supported by an Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America Grant and National Endowment for the Humanities: CARES Act Grant.
Hosts Carl Herzog, Public Historian, and Jennifer Zanolli, Manager of Interpretation & Visitor Services, discussed Disney’s inspiration–both fictional and historical–for the iconic portrayals in Pirates of the Caribbean. They shared favorite clips from the movie, relevant historical information, movie trivia, and answered questions, such as: How did life as a pirate compare to life on board USS Constitution? And where exactly did that pirate accent come from? This Maritime Movie Club program was made possible by a National Endowment for the Humanities: CARES Act Grant.
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.