The Navy Museum is housed in the former Breech Mechanism Shop of the old Gun Factory (Building 76).
Built between 1887 and 1899, the 600-foot-long building was one of several shops in the Yard that produced ordnance, missile components and electronic equipment until 1962.
In 1961 Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, recognizing that the Washington Navy Yard was the Navy's oldest and one of its most historic sites, persuaded Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally to establish the U.S. Naval Historical Display Center (later the U.S. Navy Memorial Museum, then the Navy Museum).
Opened in 1963 to collect, preserve and display naval artifacts, models, documents and fine art. Through its exhibits, the Museum chronicles the history of the United States Navy from the Revolution to the present. The exhibits commemorate the Navy's wartime heroes and battles as well as its peacetime contributions in such fields as exploration, diplomacy, space flight, navigation and humanitarian service.
Tools, equipment and personal materials offer the visitor a unique opportunity to gain an understanding of naval customs, way of life and contributions to society. The Navy Museum presents over 225 years of naval and maritime history, tracing wars, battles, and crises from the American Revolution through the Korean War.
The Navy Museum exhibits an extraordinary collection of ship models, uniforms, medals, ordnance, photographs and fine art. The museum collection also includes an F4U Corsair, nicknamed "Big Hog"; a twin mount 5-inch .38 caliber anti-aircraft gun; the foremast Fighting Top from frigate Constitution; and the bathyscaphe Trieste that descended nearly seven miles to the deepest location in the Pacific Ocean.
One of the most comprehensive exhibits, "In Harm's Way," examines the Navy's role in World War II from the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 to Japan's surrender in 1945. Divided into three sections, the exhibit examines the Pacific and Atlantic campaigns and the home front effort. Thematic exhibits, such as "Underwater Exploration," "Polar Exploration," and "Commodore Matthew Perry and the Opening of Japan," feature the Navy's diplomatic and peacetime contributions. World War II submarine periscopes, gun mounts and other hands-on objects provide visitors with an interactive museum experience.
Tours for senior citizens, school groups, families, naval reunion groups, and general audiences are available. The Navy Museum sponsors evening events throughout the year including lectures, slide presentations, book-signings, and concerts performed by the United States Navy Band and traditional maritime musicians. Each fall the museum hosts the Seafaring Celebration, a family festival highlighting naval and maritime traditions. Activity workshops, demonstrations, storytelling, and musical performances provide thousands of visitors with exciting educational experiences throughout the day. All the museum's programs are open to the public and free of charge.
The Navy Museum is open Monday through Friday from 0900 to 1700 and 1000 to 1700 weekends and most federal holidays. For holiday closure details, call 202-433-2385 or 202-433-6897.
Entering the Washington Navy Yard
Visitors must enter by the 6th and M Street gate, announce their intent to visit the museum, and those over 16 years of age must produce a form of government issued identification (ex: driver’s license, passport, etc).
Personal vehicles without current NDW parking tags should not enter the Washington Navy Yard Monday through Friday; any visitor may drive in and park in a white parking space on weekends.
Washington Navy Yard
FAX: (202) 433-8200
Guided and self-guided tours are available upon request.
The Museum is architecturally accessible to disabled visitors.