A Year of Impact, Thanks to You

The USS Constitution Museum thrived in 2021, even amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Thanks to the stalwart support of our members and donors, the Museum pivoted to a Virtual Museum serving a growing national audience, and then turned again to reopen to visitors to the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Our members and donors stood by the Museum by contributing to the Annual Fund, supporting virtual and in-person programs and events, engaging with the Museum’s online content, and supporting an important acquisition for our collection. Like the hearty crew of America’s Ship of State, you set great examples of flexibility, resilience, and leadership amidst choppy seas to keep the Museum sailing ahead.

The Museum welcomed Gen. James Mattis, USMC (Ret.), the 26th Secretary of Defense, to a wonderful virtual Leadership Speaker Series event in February 2021.  General Mattis shared his perspective on principled leadership and service to our country. The event raised over $110,000 and fully endowed the COL Drew Ley Fund, dedicated to the memory of Life Trustee Colonel Andrew “Drew” J. Ley, USMCR (Ret.). To honor Drew, the Fund supports continued Marine Corps activities at the Museum that build camaraderie and enhance knowledge of the Marines both past and present.

Our signature Salute to Service Gala recognized General Joseph Dunford, USMC (Ret.) with the Charles Francis Adams Award, the Museum’s highest honor. General Dunford, the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined Museum supporters in a memorable award presentation alongside USS Constitution in September. Later in October, during the virtual Gala event, General Dunford shared his thoughts on leadership during a recorded interview from the Captain’s Cabin. With the generous support of Liberty Mutual Insurance as the title sponsor, joined by many leading corporations and generous individual supporters, the Museum raised over $350,000 and celebrated the leadership that General Dunford exemplifies.

In 2021 the Museum’s leadership in education was acknowledged by the Yawkey Foundation with a generous $50,000 grant. Thanks to the Yawkey Foundation, the Museum will relaunch its on-site educational programs to serve students in Boston and neighboring communities. In addition, the Museum will continue to deliver new virtual educational experiences, such as our Educator Portal, to further engage our growing national audience.

Museum donors also led the way for our collections. Thanks to 16 donors who stepped forward to give a total of $60,000 to the Commodores Fund, the Museum was able to acquire a Congressional silver medal presented to Lieutenant Alexander Scammel Wadsworth for his gallantry in the battle against HMS Guerriere. An inscribed Congressional silver medal from the War of 1812 is exceedingly rare, and it joins a pair of portraits of Alexander Wadsworth and his wife, Louisa Jerusha Denison, already in our collection.


Engraved Congressional silver medal presented to Lieutenant Alexander Scammel Wadsworth for his participation in the battle with HMS Guerriere, c. 1812. [Commodores Fund Purchase]

The Museum is grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for its $199,676 American Rescue Plan grant to support our project “Inspiration from Old Ironsides, On-site & Online.” The grant process was highly competitive. NEH received 937 eligible applications and was able to fund 292 organizations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in this program. This NEH grant enabled the Museum to fund key staff positions, and supported the creation of “hands on” museum experiences and virtual programming centered around USS Constitution for children.

With your support, the Museum looks to sail ahead in 2022. Thank you for standing with the USS Constitution Museum and we look forward to seeing you in the Charlestown Navy Yard soon.

“Excellent museum! Wonderful exhibits and very clean. The people that work here were awesome – really took the time to answer our questions.”

– TripAdvisor Review, August 4, 2021