The Mariners' Museum, located in Newport News, VA near the tidal portion of the James River, a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, was named by Congress in 1998 as America’s National Maritime Museum. Established in 1930, this international maritime museum focuses much of its programming on the history and culture of the Bay region, and the use of Bay resources through an array of activities.
The Museum includes permanent galleries, changing and traveling exhibits, and virtual galleries available through the Museum website. One of the largest and most comprehensive maritime history museums in the world, The Mariners' houses a treasure trove of items inspired by human experience with the sea. The Museum illustrates the spirit of seafaring adventure, assembling a renowned and strikingly diverse collection of maritime artifacts including figureheads; ship models; navigational instruments; small craft, paintings, prints, drawings, engravings, and watercolors. The Museum is also home to the largest maritime library in the world with a collection of books, maps, charts, manuscripts, photographs, and other items that chronicle six centuries of maritime history. The award-winning USS Monitor Center features exhibits on the Civil War ironclad and Battle of Hampton Roads, as well as one of the country’s largest museum conservation facilities housing the actual turret, guns and other artifacts. Visitors may walk on a full-scale replica of the USS Monitor, take part in interactive exhibits and view films in the Battle Theater.
The 550-acre Mariners’ Museum Park is the largest privately maintained park in America open to the public. The five-mile Noland Trail features 14 wooden footbridges and skirts beautiful Lake Maury. The famed Lion’s Bridge is another stunning Park landmark, noted for its four lion statues created by sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. The park offers numerous opportunities for walking, running or picnics.