Navy Unveils Mockups of New History Museum in DC

Artist’s rendering of proposed National Museum of the U.S. Navy from Quinn Evans.
Conceptual rendering from architectural firm Quinn Evans for the proposed National Museum of the U.S. Navy. (Illustration courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

One design includes a series of seemingly floating atriums, hovering over a courtyard decked out in walls of glass. Another has sharp fins jutting toward the sky, reminiscent of angled sails.

For now, they're just ideas, but the Navy is hoping to build public interest and donations for a new national museum in Washington, D.C., releasing new conceptual artwork last week.

The Navy said Thursday that the museum will be located near Navy Yard, part of the nation's capital that overlooks the Anacostia River and a quickly developing district that the sea service is hoping will be the repository for its history.

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Proposed National Museum of the U.S. Navy from Bjarke Ingels Group.
Conceptual rendering from architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group for the proposed National Museum of the U.S. Navy. (Illustration courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

Thirty-seven architecture firms submitted qualifying concepts for the facility, but only five were chosen for the showcase.

"We are pleased to display five visions for the future of the National Museum of the U.S. Navy," Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in a press release. "While each concept is different, all of them show how we might celebrate our Navy's accomplishments, honor our veterans and point the way toward the Navy's future."

The designs, however, are not part of the final design competition, according to The Washington Post, and are meant to generate interest for not only other architectural firms to join the competition, but for the Navy and public to buy into the concept.

"It's not the final design competition for actually building the museum," retired Rear Adm. Samuel J. Cox, the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, told the newspaper last week. "But one of these firms could wind up being the finalist for that when it occurs. Or it could be somebody else."

Fundraising is the key catalyst to begin the actual competition, Cox added. When -- and what -- that number will be is unclear.

"While financial discussions are premature at this point, we are working with [the] Navy Museum Development Foundation," Lt. Ian McConnaughey, public affairs officer at Naval History and Heritage Command, told Monday.

Perkins & Will proposal for the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.
Conceptual rendering from architectural firm Perkins & Will for the proposed National Museum of the U.S. Navy. (Illustration courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

The Navy Museum Development Foundation was selected by the Navy in October "to secure the funding required to build a state-of-the-art national Navy museum," according to its website.

The architecture firms have been working since January to complete the designs, which include an atrium and a courtyard for ceremonies; the designs also integrated naval concepts into the architectural artwork -- sails, aircraft, or a swift boat, for example.

The building would constitute 270,000 square feet and about "100,000 square feet of net gallery space," according to the Navy.

Charles Swift, the acting director of the Museum of the United States Navy, the service's current historical institution, said the designs are an important first step in the process of completing the project, which according to the Post, will begin in 2025.

The new Navy museum would be the first national service museum located directly in D.C. The national Army museum, as well as the Marine Corps museum, are located in Northern Virginia.

The Naval History and Heritage Command also listed its Facebook page and email in case the public wants to weigh in on the design ideas.

"These ideas incorporate the feedback the Navy has received from working groups of active-duty sailors and represent the work of historians, curators and other professionals at Naval History and Heritage Command," McConnaughey said. "We welcome the public's feedback on these five concepts as we continue to work towards our new museum and cultural center for the Navy."

-- Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

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