The USS Constitution Museum is sailing ahead! The pandemic unleashed our creativity, finding new ways to reach our audience at home. Though COVID-19 temporarily closed our doors, there is still an eager family of Constitution fans engaging in online programs. We fulfill our mission and share stories of “Old Ironsides” by virtual means, in some cases reaching larger audiences than we can house in-person, and in some cases, from across the U.S. and abroad! Let me share the enthusiasm we have heard from our online audience:
“One of the many things I love about the USS Constitution Museum is that it invites visitors to be participants rather than mere spectators. It dares people to use their imagination. It’s inclusive, educational, and fun, and I think it’s one of Boston’s greatest treasures.”
An Online Annual Report
We are publishing this year’s Annual Report online, so we can include more images and videos to illuminate the broad range of activities underway. Here you will see the recent accomplishments of the USS Constitution Museum, alongside audited financial information from our last two fiscal years.
Two years completed - 2019 & 2020
2019 featured the patterns of public access and participation that we had come to take for granted—hundreds of thousands of visitors streaming through our doors each year. That came to an abrupt end on Friday, March 13, 2020, when we closed our doors due to the pandemic and pivoted rapidly to a Virtual Museum experience. With the support of our Board of Trustees, our staff began an extraordinary number of programs, events, and other initiatives to engage our growing online audience of families, active-duty service members, veterans, educators, students, donors, members, and Constitution enthusiasts. We partnered with our Charlestown Navy Yard neighbors, the U.S. Navy and National Parks of Boston, on programs and events. For Constitution’s Virtual 223rd Birthday, we reached over 85,000 viewers via our joint Facebook Live program and unveiled our major acquisition of a collection of rare, early U.S. Navy documents. A fitting present for “Old Ironsides” on her birthday! Our virtual supporters were treated to a “behind the scenes tour” of our newest collection finds, which included the “birthday gift” of 150 documents detailing the early development of the U.S. Navy, as well as two portraits of Captain John Gwinn and his wife, Caroline S. Lynch Gwinn. These are the only contemporary portraits of a Constitution captain and his wife in the Museum’s collection.
Over a year as a virtual museum
I am pleased to report that we are weathering the stormy seas of the pandemic and holding a steady course thanks to the support of the Museum Family. In fact, Charity Navigator just awarded the Museum its highest 4-star rating **** for the 8th year in a row, putting our Museum in the top 6% of nonprofits nationwide. We are not just treading water, instead we are sailing ahead with exciting plans for a new museum adjacent to “Old Ironsides.” We are planning with our partners in the National Park Service and U.S. Navy for a new gateway to the Navy Yard featuring a new USS Constitution Museum! You will find the exciting stories of our past accomplishments as well as a glimpse of the exciting future in the pages ahead. We celebrated our 45th birthday on April 8, 2021 by reopening to the public! It was a wonderful day to celebrate and welcome Museum guests—frequent and brand new—and share memories with our digital visitors.
My thanks to the USS Constitution Museum Family for joining us in this journey!
Special Thanks To OUr Charlestown Navy Yard Partners
We collaborate closely with our partners to imagine exciting new ways to activate the Navy Yard. For more than 40 years we have worked together to educate, engage, and empower all who visit. Thank you to the U.S. Navy, National Park Service, and Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston; our partnership has never been stronger!