Commemorating the world’s oldest naval vessel still afloat, The USS Constitution Museum is not only named after the legendary frigate but also houses everything that a fan or a history student might want to see or know about it. The museum, built in a restored shipyard building at the former Charleston Navy Yard, is focused towards educating people about the USS Constitution, while at the same time serving as a reminder of the vessel’s glorious past.
The Old Ironsides, as the USS Constitution is nicknamed, was one of the six original frigates commissioned for construction in the end of 18th century – and the last that still lives! The vessel was completed and laid to work in the year 1797, from where it was soon to defeat four frigates belonging to the British Navy in the 1812 war. It also won the historic battle against the Guerriere, a French frigate. The USS Constitution, named after the Constitution of United States of America by George Washington sailed the waters for the last time in the year 2012 to mark the 200th anniversary of its win over the Guerriere –amazingly it did so on its own power, showing that it was still up and going!
The Museum was made in appreciation and respect to the magnificent vessel, and it is home for myriad of fact and figures, stories and fables, all related to the USS Constitution and the people who have been associated to it over the span of the last two centuries. Providing a family atmosphere to the visitors, the museum offers a series of activities ranging from research to knowledge sharing, libraries, quizzes and so on, it even lets visitors shop for items related to the cause. Once there, visitors get an array of things to choose from with virtually every book written on the topic aligned in a section, apparel that matches the crew of USS Constitution or just has the seal on it, articulately crafted vessel models, paintings and what not; the list goes on.
For the more historically inclined visitors, the museum presents a collection and recollection of historical items and events respectively. One can go through the complete timeline of the majestic vessel in a chronological order, and do so in a way that is both fascinating than educational. Apart from that, visitors can walk through and read the original manuscripts used by the actual crew –with more than 7000 items in that category, it can make you spend days simply getting acquainted, if you have the thirst. Furthermore, the collection includes actual artifacts that belong to the vessel or people related to it; things that take you back to the good ol’ days, which were obviously thrilling.
Allowing you to learn and explore the majestic history of the frigate, the museum has dozens of activities in order every time you visit. The management often organizes fun events for the whole family like Sew a 19th century sea bag workshop or Battle station; an activity that takes the whole family into the building, and have them recreate ships and prepare for maritime warfare! On a more serious note, the management organizes three honored awards, namely; The Samuel Eliot Morrison Award, The Charles Francis Adams Award & The Don Turner Award; each one of them is either honoring people who have worked for the wellbeing of the society or those who have shown dedication in ship construction and design.
Last but not the least, it is a visit worth the money, no matter how long or short you plan it to be, the USS Constitution Museum and the legacy it carries in lieu of the Old Ironsides will make you want to stay for more!