Sep. 9th, 2010

Independence Seaport Museum: Philadelphia's Maritime History

Arts & Culture: The Independence Seaport Museum, located at Penn's Landing, lets boating enthusiasts of all ages immerse themselves in the maritime history of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. Visitors get to examine maritime artifacts, ship models, and full-sized boats in interactive exhibitions, with a special emphasis on the Port of Philadelphia, trade, immigration, shipbuilding, and deep sea submersibles.

The Museum is home to two ships that are National Historic Landmarks, the USS Olympia, which was Admiral Dewey's flagship during the Spanish American War, and the USS Becuna, a WWII submarine which patrolled the Philippines, South China Sea, and the Java Sea and was credited with having sunk two Japanese tankers. Both vessels offer daily self-guided and group tours; visitors may also book special behind-the-scenes tours and see sections of the ships that are normally off-limits to the public.

Other permanent exhibits include What Floats Your Boat, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and focuses on the science, history and art of boats; Home Port Philadelphia, which explores Delaware Valley maritime history of the late 19th century and early 20th century, including immigration, commerce, defense, industry and recreation; and Coming to America, which chronicles the experience of immigrants who came through Philadelphia's Washington Avenue, the fourth-largest immigration port of its time, including the oral histories of actual passengers.

Serious boaters will want to sign up for Boatbuilding 101 class. Over two weekends, students learn everything they need to know to build their own boat under the guidance of expert craftsmen. The class is completely hands-on and covers all phases of boat building, including getting the most out of a set of plans, building the backbone, steaming frames, planking, spar-making, interior joinery, and more. The cost includes all tools and materials.

In addition to the permanent exhibits, traveling exhibitions are always making their way through the museum. There's always something new to see and do; check the Museum's Web site for current exhibits and events!
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