A trial program running through August to generate greater public visitation to naval history is paying real dividends.
The initiative provides an easier, alternate entrance to allow public visits by using the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and entering the Washington Navy Yard through the Taylor Building which houses the Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) Cold War Gallery.
The month-long trial allows enhanced access to the National Museum of the U.S. Navy (NMUSN), the Cold War Gallery, and the Display Ship Barry. The initiative also extends the Barry’s visiting hours.
James Bruns, director of the NMUSN, is excited to have the extra visitors learn more about the Navy’s diverse history.
“The numbers have been phenomenal,” Bruns said. “We are at the midpoint [of this program] and we have doubled the amount of visitors we had during this time last year.”
Organizers feared furloughs might skew the visitation data, as has been seen in other areas. Across the Navy’s museum enterprise, federal furloughs and cutbacks that have lowered the amount of visitors of many Navy museums by almost 10 percent. Even the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., which draws the largest crowds out of the Navy museum network, has seen a reduction is its attendance.
Bruns credits part of the success here to the reserve Sailors who have helped increase access and visiting times.
“The reservists have been absolutely essential,” Bruns said.
According to Jennifer Marland, museum curator, the Sailors also help to attract the visitors. She has been spending the past two weeks helping the Sailors brush-up on naval history and navigating the museum. This allows them to help give visitors a better experience and direct them if they might have any questions.
“Our visitors are excited to talk to Sailors,” Marland said. “I think it definitely helps that they actually get to speak with the people doing the jobs today that we show in our exhibitions.”
Whether the attraction for visitors is ease of access or speaking with service members, the result is the same. More people are learning how Navy history has positively influenced our nation’s path.
The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is a trail running from Diamond Teague Park next to the Nationals Ball Park in Washington, D.C. to a path just outside the walls of the Washington Navy Yard along the Potomac River. Through the end of August, visitors can access the museums of the Washington Navy Yard through the Taylor Building which houses the Cold War Gallery or the 11th and O St. gate to the yard. The Display Ship Barry, National Museum of the United States Navy and Cold War Gallery are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekends.
NHHC’s mission is to collect, preserve, and make available the artifacts, documents, art and knowledge that promote naval history and heritage’s relevancy for present and future generations to remind America of the need to maintain a strong Navy to protect its citizens, their freedoms, and the global maritime commons.
For more news from Naval History and Heritage Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navhist/.