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“Very interesting”

The Mariners' Museum & Park
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Mariners' Museum, America's National Maritime Museum, includes the USS Monitor Center, home to the Civil War Ironclad's iconic gun turret. The Museum has over 35,000 maritime artifacts, including ship models, paintings and small craft. Located on a 550-acre park, they also feature a 5-mile hiking trail and paddleboat rentals.
Reviewed November 1, 2007

Wonderful museum. My husband loved every minute. A bit too detailed for me, but I also enjoyed it.

Thank cjjjbugs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"uss monitor"
in 116 reviews
"maritime history"
in 57 reviews
"model ships"
in 32 reviews
"small craft"
in 36 reviews
"civil war"
in 92 reviews
"css virginia"
in 35 reviews
"america's cup"
in 11 reviews
"monitor center"
in 26 reviews
"full scale"
in 18 reviews
"ironclad ship"
in 13 reviews
"several hours"
in 17 reviews
"gun turret"
in 11 reviews
"hampton roads"
in 27 reviews
"small boats"
in 13 reviews
"beautiful grounds"
in 8 reviews
"chesapeake bay"
in 10 reviews
"on display"
in 27 reviews

730 - 734 of 740 reviews

Reviewed July 22, 2007

We've now been to the Mariner's Museum and USS Monitor center approximately a half a dozen times, it is one of our favorite museums in the country and a "must stop" whenever we visit the Tidewater area.

The museum consists of several separate areas, the old Mariner's Museum pays tribute to naval history, with extensive exhibits on Lord Nelson, the Titanic, and naval warfare. One hall contains large models of numerous types of ships (with another area consisting of miniature models), another wing covers sea life on the Chesapeake Bay, while a changing exhibit area is updated several times throughout the year. Currently it features small ships, including a hand-made boat used by a husband and wife to escape Cuba, it must be seen to be believed.

But the crown jewel of the museum is the USS Monitor Center which opened in March of 2007. The center is home to several relics from the wreckage of the Monitor, the first Union iron-clad ship to see combat. In March of 1862 the Monitor saved the union navy at Fort Monroe from the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac), the South's own iron-clad (some understanding of this event is helpful before visiting the museum) in a battle known as the Duel of The Iron Clads. The Monitor was a revolutionary ship, the first warship with a revolving turrret as opposed to fixed guns.

The Monitor center opens with a short video about the sinking and recovery of the Monitor (it sunk in 1862 and was discovered in 1973, the turret was raised in 2003). From there you move on to exhibits showing the design, construction, and life aboard the ship, as well as the construction of the Virginia. Then you reach the highlight, a surround-sound and video theater which shows about a 12 minute video and light show on the battle, it even includes a spinning gear on the ceiling to make you feel as if you are inside the monitor. After the movie, you move to exhibits covering the aftermath, as well as development of other iron-clad ships.

From there, it's into a room with a full-scale model of the Monitor's turret at time of recovery, as well as what it will look like when it is finally restored (note - the real turret will eventually replace the model of the restored turret. Outside this room is a full-scale replica of the Monitor, but only the top deck is open for touring. You can see what the inside looked like by walking down the stairs below the turret models. There's also an interactive movie about the recovery which allows the audience to choose which steps to take during the recovery process.

Finally, you can see the restoration of many of the relics, including the actual turret, the two cannons, the engines, and several other parts.

The museum also has a gift shop and a very good but small cafe. Staff are wonderfully friendly and numerous volunteers are available for assistance and guidance throughout the exhibits. There are several interactive exhibits for the kids, as well as a number of kids programs throughout the year. Plan to spend at least 4-6 hours to take in the entire place.

7  Thank ibeplato
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 15, 2007

We'd planned to see several sites in Newport News and the area enroute between Williamsburg and Chincoteague. We saw one thing. This one. We got there around 10, and left at around 4, to miss rush-hour traffic. We could have spent more time. (Just for amusement, the AAA guide suggests 2 hours.)

Upon arrival, after buying our tickets we were met by a guide who explained the layout of the museum (even though we had a map), and how much time to allow for the various exhibits and films. I found this a bit uncomfortable for some reason ... he was very charming and helpful, but ... intrusive maybe. We finally broke free and started to explore the museum.

There is a LOT to see. A brand new exhibit (possibly built after the AAA guide went to press) on the "Monitor" (Civil War Ironclad), which included a couple of short films, the actual gun turret of the ship, a reconstruction of the ship, lots of artifacts and information, and a strangly addictive little game in which you design and launch your own ironclads. A huge exhibit on many aspects of Cheasapeake Bay, with lots of real and recreated boats, maps, and more. A wonderful display of old steamship models (including a special section on the Titanic.). The 'small craft center' (in a separate building) containing dozens of small (and not so small) boats of all types. "The Age of Exploration" -- the history of navigation and seafaring and "Defending the Seas" -- the history of the U.S. Navy. (Which we walked through backwards!) There is also a small gallery of maritime art.

Temporary exhibits while we were there included "The Nelson Touch" (about Horatio -- probably would have been more interesting if I'd known more about the man before I arrived, but still worthwhile), and two photographic exhibits, one great ("Archipelago" -- wildlife photos from Hawaii), one just so-so ("Stationary Voyages" -- pictures of boats.)

The cafe and gift shop are located in the entryway, so you don't have to pay admission to get to them, but if you DID pay admission, be sure to hold onto your ticket so you can get back in after your lunch break. The food in the cafe was very good, though service was slow (only one person was working there, and she had to take your money and prepare your food -- possibly someone called in sick that day). The gift shop was suprisingly small, given the size of the museum.

Not the cheapest museum in town, but definitely worth a visit .. and hopefully next time we're in the area we'll see the other things we'd planned to see that day!

3  Thank DreamTraveller2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 10, 2006

Excellent museum with great exhibits and very well designed. The only downside was that the gift shop is closed while part of the museum is undergoing construction.

2  Thank Arlington_Reviewer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 21, 2017
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Thank rubgen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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