Quote from this week’s Navy Times article “Former SECNAVs urge Navy to join museum effort:”

“The Navy is aware of the Maritime Foundation’s proposal — which was submitted in September — but considers it just one of many options for a new museum somewhere around the capital, said retired Rear Adm. Jay DeLoach, director of Naval History and Heritage Command.

Although DeLoach said there was ‘general recognition within the Navy and senior Navy leadership’ that it was a good idea to raise the profile of the Navy’s relatively small museum at the Washington Navy Yard, officials must analyze all options. DeLoach said he could not discuss what the other options were, nor could he talk about what he called the ‘risk’ of the Navy joining the project, or any of the other options.

The situation is apparently in flux because it’s the subject of discussions between History and Heritage Command, Naval District Washington, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

‘We’re exploring a number of options,’ DeLoach said. ‘We have to do our due diligence to ensure that any risk to the Navy is minimal.’”

Last week, some very senior legacy leaders endorsed the National Maritime Heritage Foundation’s (NMHF) project to build a new National Museum of the United States Navy on the Southwest Waterfront, Washington, D.C., as outlined in this week’s article and in a letter to the editors of the Navy Times. First, we would like to applaud these leaders for stepping forward and supporting NMHF and its project. These leaders have the vision to see the value of the project, site offered and team assembled by the Foundation. We have reviewed the full proposal (it’s on the Navy Times web site) and this is a once-in-a-century opportunity for the Navy.

Projects of the size, scope and status of a national Navy Museum are only successful because they engage and galvanize a huge swath of varied and interested groups. Examples are prevalent around the country and in Washington: the WWII Memorial, the Marine Corps Museum, and the USS Arizona Memorial. Each of these national campaigns activated citizen supporters, corporate America, and many non-profit organizations. These projects and associated campaigns were led by a professional team of experts, under the oversight of a prestigious board of directors who were willing to give their time and money.

What is innovative about the proposal that NMHF is offering the Navy is that it is a public-private venture or partnership (PPV), one that has precedent in the approach that the Navy has taken in other areas – most notably in the construction of new Navy housing. Through a PPV model, the Navy acquires expertise and experience, including state-of-the-art design and business modeling that will ensure long term success of the project. Additional major benefits to the Navy include:

• As outlined in the proposal, the Navy has ownership of the Museum and the joint Naval/Maritime Museum.

• The Navy has complete control over design of the Museum.

• The professional team NMHF has assembled includes the very best professionals in the discipline of museum development (having designed and built the Spy Museum, the Smithsonian’s Oceans Hall and the D-Day Visitors Center in Normandy – just to name a few of their success stories).

• Long-term stability that does not require additional Navy funding.

• Navy Museum is the cultural anchor in a major new development that is supported by the local government, with a District commitment of $198 million.

• NMHF will be responsible for undertaking and managing the fundraising for this project and has a team of fundraising professionals with a successful track record of completing multi-million dollar capital campaigns.

The Navy Times article states that the Navy is “exploring a number of options” for relocating the Navy museum. Over the last five years, with the professional support of the Staubach Company (now Jones Lang LaSalle), NMHF’s team of experts has examined all potential waterfront sites in Washington, D.C., for a new museum. Nothing compares to the Southwest Waterfront site currently under consideration. It is the only site near the monumental core of the city, on the water and available for development. It is four blocks from the National Mall and the 30 million people who annually visit it. It is adjacent to the 14th Street Bridge, the main southern entrance to the District. What an incredible branding and marketing opportunity for the Navy. The commercial developers are eager to get started and have indicated in no uncertain terms that they will not wait for the Navy to do its own exhaustive study of locations. The studies have been completed and the Southwest Waterfront location wins in every category of analysis.

We are delighted that several former Secretaries of the Navy and a former Interior Secretary recognize the exciting opportunity the Navy has. We hope the current Navy leadership agrees and moves the project forward.




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  • Jim Dolbow

    How many square feet do you envision for your proposed National Museum of the U.S. Navy?

    Disclaimer: Asked in my capacity as a private citizen.

  • Danny

    Jim,

    According to the proposal posted on the Navy Times a couple of months back the overall all center will be 150,000 square feet with the Navy getting the loins share of that space.

    Danny

  • Matt Schatzle

    150,000 sq ft. But it could be larger if the Navy wanted. You need to balance the size of the museum with several factors including the experience for the visitor, the ability to attract lots of visitors, and the revenue you secure from each visitor. Museum’s today are usually designed around a 45 min – 1 hour experience. If it takes 4 hours to see the entire museum because you have 500,000 square feet, you cannot get 1 million visitors through annually. The math just doesnt work. We also know that each museum visitor in Washinton DC will spend $5.47 on average in the museum on food, gift shop or added elements like a 4d IMAX show. If the museum location is not easily accessible to the 30 million national mall visitors and the exhibits are static and stale to kids and families, you’ll never get even close to enough visitors to make a Navy useum financially sound without millions each year out of the Navy’s budget. (there current situation on the Navy Yard — even with free rent they are still way upside down) Not to mention the fact that the current museum is failing in its basic mission to educate the American public about the value and importance of the US Navy both now and in our past. Our Navy Museum needs to educate the youth of today not the retired Navy veteran who already believes. And that kid is on the national mall today with his classmates and millions more who visit DC every spring.

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