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Literalman

Nauticus in Norfolk, Virginia

A few weeks ago, for the first time, I visited the Nauticus museum in Norfolk, Virginia. I enjoyed it very much. It has exhibits about the port of Norfolk, the Navy, sea life, and more. It has a good number of ship models, and the battleship Wisconsin is one of the exhibits. There are two 3D films, Aircraft Carrier and Secret Ocean, which is by Jean-Michel Cousteau. I watched that one (I didn't have time for both), and it was excellent. In the same building is the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, which is free. I had to breeze through that one for lack of time; I really wanted a couple of hours to see the exhibits, so I'll have to go back some day. I had lunch in the Dockside Cafe; the food was delicious and not too expensive. I had a Hampton Roads Transit day pass (which costs only $4 and is good on the buses, light rail, and Elizabeth River ferries). After Nauticus closed, I boarded a ferry just for the boat ride. As the ferry approached Portsmouth on the other side of the river, I saw the Portsmouth lightship on display out of the water, just two blocks from the ferry dock, so I walked over there. The shipyard museum was closed for the day, but the lightship is outside where you can walk up to it. Clearly there is more for me to see. Some years ago I visited the lifesaving museum on the oceanfront in Virginia Beach (about 10 miles from Norfolk). This is worth a visit too. (I hope this post isn't duplicative; I searched the forum and didn't find anything about Nauticus.)

jud, Ryland Craze, ulrich and 2 others like this

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Interesting. I visited Nauticus a few years ago and was underwhelmed. Most of the exhibits seemed rather disorganized, random, and a bit childish. On the other hand, the actual Naval Museum is excellent, as is the battleship tour. Perhaps they've upgraded the Nauticus portion since then, as it did seem that things were "in progress" when I was there.

 

When I was a kid in the '80s, we passed through Norfolk on a regular basis on our way to the Outer Banks, and often enjoyed taking a tour of one of the active-duty warships. That's all gone now, unfortunately, it was a great experience and recruiting tool. Another good stop in the area is the state park just east of the Bay Bridge; you can walk out onto the beach there and watch shipping pass to and from the Atlantic while imagining the diverse nautical history that's passed by that view.

 

If you want to drive a few hours south, the museum on Roanoke Island, NC, is excellent, including their reproduction Elizabeth II 17th century ship.

Ryland Craze, cecil, Canute and 1 other like this

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You are right that a lot of the museum is aimed at children. I guess I enjoyed some of those exhibits just the same. I had adult conversations with the museum staff at the shark petting zoo and the horseshoe crab pool. In my college days I was a deckhand on a bluefish party boat on the Jersey Shore, so I had a lot of experience with dogfish, similar to the little sharks at Nauticus, and had seen horseshoe crabs washed up on the beach but had no experience of live ones, and little knowledge of them. I guess I was just as pleased with the natural history materials as with the exhibits explicitly about ships. And there was a nice exhibit about the Great White Fleet, and even though I'd toured the New Jersey a few years ago I still enjoyed wandering around the Wisconsin. As I was walking around the deck, another guy turned to me and said, "This is awesome!" I agreed. :)

ulrich and mtaylor like this

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