Day 2: Puget Sound Navy Museum

Day two of my week long adventure involved crossing the water! It was a balmy 72°F in Seattle and the ferry ride to Bremerton was magnificent. There is nothing quite like Puget Sound on a sunny day. Alighting at the Bremerton Ferry Terminal, the Puget Sound Navy Museum was mere steps away!

Hours

Monday - Saturday 10 am - 4 pm

Sunday 1 pm - 4 pm

Closed Tuesdays October - April

Admission

Free!

This museum was a real eye-opener for me. I thought I knew what to expect from something referred to as a "Navy Museum", but I was surprised. Instead of halls filled with military medals and WWII memorabilia, I found a highly interactive museum focused on the present day happenings around the Bremerton Naval Shipyard.

The main floor exhibits offer a little of the usual maritime historical content. A brief history of the shipyard, its role in each World War, and its transition into the modern day. There was a wonderful array of artifacts on display, as well as comprehensive text panels. Off to one side was a wonderful Children's Activity Room, full of clothes to try on, ships to build, and other nautical fun.

Upstairs is where things really got interesting. The USS John C. Stennis gallery was fascinating. It explored the daily life of men and women aboard the USS Stennis through the use of videos and vignettes. Dental exams, free time, and online education were just a few of the aspects of non-military activities undertaken by folks aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

Around the corner was a spacious gallery of WWII political cartoons. Usually focused on convincing Americans to buy war bonds and be safe in the work place, the "Salute" cartoon strip was extremely popular in the 1940's. Artists featured include Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, Hank Ketchew, Red Lockert, and more. It was a little light on contextualizing information, but the cartoons themselves were thoroughly entertaining and educational.

The second floor featured another temporary exhibit in a very small gallery. "Remembering Midway" explored the days and hours leading up to the Japanese attack on Midway Island in 1942. There were many photographs and an excellent timeline of both Japanese and American movements, but the gallery seemed empty. There were only a few artifacts in the space and the center of the room stood bare. Excellent content, but poor design in my opinion.

The final gallery was another unexpected delight. "Special Operations Submarines" took visitors through the training of submariners, their life aboard the submarine, and the technical skills needed to operate such a complex machine. The gallery has interactive stations for identifying sonar sounds and steering a submarine. There was a focus on the use of submarines during the Cold War and I learned that many of these missions are still classified.

This museum is a ferry ride and a stone's throw from Seattle, offers free admission, and houses a fascinating collection. I cannot recommend it highly enough, but maybe I'm just riding that sunshine high.