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Seas the Opportunity to Explore at Independence Seaport Museum

June 2, 2022

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Seas the Opportunity to Explore at Independence Seaport Museum

Independence Seaport Museum allows visitors to discover Philadelphia’s river of history and world of connections by exploring award-winning exhibits and two historic ships, Cruiser Olympia and Submarine Becuna. Founded as the Philadelphia Maritime Museum in 1960, ISM is home to one of the largest maritime art and artifact collections in North America.

Tides of Freedom. Photo courtesy of Independence Seaport Museum.

Water is the underlying theme visitors will navigate while exploring ISM’s exhibits. In Tides of Freedom: African American Presence on the Delaware River, guests can explore the concept of freedom through the lens of the African experience. This exhibit urges visitors to bear witness to a story central to Philadelphia and American history by exploring four critical periods- Enslavement, Emancipation, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights. Guests are encouraged to reflect and respond to the meaning of “freedom” historically and in today’s world.

Patriots & Pirates. Photo courtesy of Independence Seaport Museum.

Steps away, Patriots & Pirates tells the little-known story about the role Philadelphia played in the founding of the United States Navy. Along with fascinating pieces from the collection, such as an octant used by Captain John Barry throughout his entire career, the main highlight of the exhibit is Schooner Diligence, a replica of the original vessel built in 1797 by Joshua and Samuel Humphreys in Philadelphia. Ships like Diligence played a vital role in developing the early Navy toward defending American merchant ships from attacks by Britain, France, and the Barbary pirates. The original Diligence was commissioned for the Revenue-Marines and immediately transferred to Captain John Barry’s squadron stationed in the West Indies to protect commerce in the Caribbean. Visitors can climb aboard this masterpiece model built by ISM’s staff and volunteers in The Seaport Boat Shop.

River Alive! Photo courtesy of Independence Seaport Museum.

The award-winning River Alive! exhibit allows visitors to investigate the importance of keeping our waterways clean, especially the Delaware River, which provides drinking water to 15 million people. As guests move through the space, they can experience some can’t miss exhibit fun, like Currents: Partners & Project Station, where they can take a personality quiz to find out which river animal they most closely resemble. And, don’t forget about the Continuum Wall, where visitors can simulate cleaning pollution and create a clean river by using five interactive stations. These stations represent how the mountains, wilderness, farmland, cities, and coastal plains are all connected by the river that runs through them.

Historic Ships. Photo courtesy of Independence Seaport Museum.

After exploring the Museum’s exhibits, visitors can climb aboard the Museum’s two historic ships, Cruiser Olympia and Submarine Becuna. Cruiser Olympia, the oldest remaining steel warship afloat in the world, rose to prominence as Commodore (later Admiral) Dewey’s flagship during the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898. During her service, Olympia was seen as a technical marvel and a cultural pop star. Fittingly, her final act of service was bringing home the American Unknown Soldier from World War One to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Submarine Becuna, a World War II-era submarine, saw action in the Pacific Ocean upon her commissioning on May 27, 1944, and completed five wartime patrols. In 1951, she underwent modernization as part of the United States Navy’s Greater Underwater Propulsion & Power Program, otherwise referred to as the GUPPY Program. Becuna was refitted with a Guppy 1-A modification and is the only Guppy 1-A type submarine remaining anywhere in the world. Guests can dive deeper by taking advantage of adding guided tours to their visit, where ship keepers will discuss the history of both vessels and showcase areas not normally available to the public.


To learn more and to plan your trip today, click here.


Cover photo courtesy of Independence Seaport Museum

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