Story by Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Lee, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
KEYPORT, Wash. -- For 25 years, the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum (USNUM) has strived to connect veterans, Sailors and the local community with the history, technology and operations of the undersea Navy.
The Undersea Museum opened as a preview center in 1991, and proceeded to open as a fully operational museum in 1994, with the goal of keeping the community connected and educated with its undersea Navy.
“The undersea Navy is something the majority of people in our country are not familiar with,” said Olivia Wilson, operations manager for the USNUM. “We want to provide the community with a basic understanding of what the Navy does undersea through exhibits and educational opportunities, free of charge.”
Some of the museum’s biggest attractions include the acquisition of the attack submarine USS Sturgeon’s (SSN 673) sail, located in front of the museum, and the Greenling control room that was constructed with real equipment from the Cold War-era fast attack submarine USS Greenling (SSN 614).
“We’re very proud of all of the artifacts,” said Wilson. “It’s a great way to show our visitors the history of the undersea Navy. It’s been a long road, but we’re continuing to grow and bring in new exhibits and programs. We’re trying to keep moving forward and improve on what we can provide for the community.”
The museum also offers hands-on learning opportunities for children in the local community through the museum’s educational programs.
“Over the life of the museum, we’ve grown our educational offerings to weekly and monthly science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs,” said Valerie Johnson, a USNUM educator.
“We’ve partnered with regional schools and community organizations to enhance K-12 experiences, both onsite with Navy STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) days and offsite with Camp Create. We’ve expanded our outreach capabilities throughout Puget Sound and are serving roughly 10,000 learners a year.”
Since 1999, the museum has been the venue for more than 7,000 retirements, changes of command, meetings, trainings, field trips and other education programs.
“We’re more than just a museum,” said Wilson. “We provide an auditorium for local, state and federal entities to rent out for whatever events they have going on. We have about 20,000 people a year using our facility spaces.”
"The USNUM was made possible through the determination of a core group of founders who recognized the need to share the U.S. Navy's important undersea history,” said Lindy Dosher, museum director of the USNUM. “Establishing the museum was not easy, but after decades of work their dream was realized. In the years since USNUM became a professional museum institution, it has accomplished many things. We’ve shared award-winning educational programs, been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums twice, managed a diverse and complex artifact collection with the highest standards in the industry, developed a robust and engaging exhibit program, and served as a critical asset to our Navy and local community. We have had a great 25 years, and the staff and I look forward to seeing what more we can do in the next 25.”
The Naval Undersea Museum is one of the largest maritime museums on the West Coast and holds the country's most comprehensive collection of undersea-related artifacts and documents. Through education programs and an 18,000-square foot exhibit hall, the museum connects visitors to more than 150 years of naval undersea history and technology.
The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history, and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archaeology, Navy histories, ten museums (including USNUM), USS Constitution repair facility, and the historic ship Nautilus.
For more about the Naval History and Heritage Command, visit https://www.history.navy.mil/ and for more on the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum, visit https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/museums/undersea.html