Mariners' Museum

The Mariners' Museum and Park
Established 1930
Location 100 Museum Drive
Newport News, Virginia
United States
Coordinates 37°03′18″N 76°29′16″W / 37.0550°N 76.4878°W / 37.0550; -76.4878
Type Maritime

The Mariners' Museum and Park is located in Newport News, Virginia, United States. Designated as America’s National Maritime Museum by Congress, it is one of the largest maritime museums in North America. The Mariners' Museum Library, contains the largest maritime history collection in the Western Hemisphere.[1]


The museum was founded in 1930 by Archer Milton Huntington, son of Collis P. Huntington, a railroad builder who brought the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway to Warwick County, Virginia, and who founded the City of Newport News, its coal export facilities, and Newport News Shipbuilding in the late 19th century.

Huntington and his wife, the sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, acquired 800 acres (320 ha) of land that would come to hold 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) of exhibition galleries, a research library, a 167-acre (68 ha) lake, a 5-mile (8.0 km) shoreline trail with fourteen bridges, and over 35,000 maritime artifacts from around the globe. After the land acquisition took place, the first two years were devoted to creating and improving a natural park and constructing a dam to create Lake Maury, named after the nineteenth-century Virginia oceanographer, Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury.

Artifacts, paintings, models

The museum’s collection totals approximately 32,000 artifacts, equally divided between works of art and three-dimensional objects. The scope of the collection is international and includes miniature ship models, scrimshaw, maritime paintings, decorative arts, carved figureheads, working steam engines, and the world's only known existing Kratz-built steam calliope.[2] The museum holds important collections of paintings and drawings by marine artists James Bard and Antonio Jacobsen.[3] The museum offers educational programs for all ages, a large research library and archives, as well as publications and Internet resources for teachers.

Collection highlights

USS Monitor Center

New replica of USS Monitor, dedicated March 9th, 2007

The Mariners' Museum is home to the USS Monitor Center. In 1973, the wreck of the ironclad USS Monitor, made famous in the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862, during the American Civil War, was located on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean about 16 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.[4] The wreck site was designated as the United States' first national marine sanctuary. Monitor Sanctuary is the only one of the thirteen national marine sanctuaries created to protect a cultural resource, rather than a natural resource or a mix of natural and cultural resources.[4]

The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is now under the supervision of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.[4] Many artifacts from Monitor, including her innovative turret, propeller, anchor, engine and some personal effects of the crew, have been brought to the museum. For several years, they were conserved in special tanks to stabilize the metal. The new USS Monitor Center officially opened on March 9, 2007, and a full-scale replica of the Monitor, the original recovered turret, and many artifacts and related items are now on display.[5][6] Current efforts are focused on restoring the engine.[7]

Park and Noland Trail

Sunset on the James, as seen from the Lions Bridge

The Mariners' Museum Park is 550 acres of privately maintained, naturally wooded property that offers visitors a quiet and serene place to walk, run, or picnic. Within the Park is the 167-acre Lake Maury, named for the famed 19th-century oceanographer and native Virginian, Matthew Fontaine Maury.

Following the shoreline of Lake Maury is the five-mile Noland Trail. Dedicated as a gift from the Noland Family in 1991 and with significant ongoing financial support from the Noland Family, the trail has fourteen bridges, picnic areas, benches, handicap access, and mile markers. Each fall The Mariners' Museum hosts a 10K run on the Noland Trail.

The Mariners’ Museum Park is open daily to the public. Benches at approximately every half-mile offer places of rest along the trail, and views of Lake Maury can be found around every corner.

The famous Lions Bridge, a dam that provides a scenic view of the James River, remains a highlight for visitors—a perfect family gathering place to enjoy the Museum Park. The beauty of the dam is enhanced by several fine pieces of statuary designed by Anna Hyatt Huntington, sculptor and wife of Museum founder Archer Milton Huntington. Four stone lions were mounted on the ends of the parapets of the dam in October 1932. Anna also created and dedicated a monument entitled Conquering the Wild that overlooks the Lions Bridge, the park, and Lake Maury.

See also


  1. Museum Library, Mariners' Museum. Accessed 29 Sept 2015.
  2. "Museum History". Mariners' Museum. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  3. Mariner's Museum and Peluso, Anthony J., Jr., The Bard Brothers -- Painting America under Steam and Sail, Abrams, New York 1997 ISBN 0-8109-1240-6
  4. 1 2 3 Dinsmore, David A; Broadwater, John D (1999). "1998 NOAA Research Expedition to the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.". In: Hamilton RW, Pence DF, Kesling DE, eds. Assessment and Feasibility of Technical Diving Operations for Scientific Exploration. American Academy of Underwater Sciences. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  5. Ericson, Mark St. John (2007-03-09). "The center opens". Daily Press (Virginia). Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  6. Ericson, Mark St. John (2007-02-26). "Part 3: Replicating the mighty turret". Daily Press (Virginia). Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  7. Ericson, Mark St. John (2010-12-18). "Restoration efforts on Civil War steam engine progressing". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
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