My Suitcase Subscribe Now for Insider Info

Life of a Sailor on Old Ironsides

Interactive Exhibits Aboard the USS Constitution Museum

The USS Constitution, a warship dating back to 1794, boasts an impressive amount of titles and bearings, including being the oldest floating warship in the world, and still proudly afloat today in Boston Harbor. Once a sinker of enemy ships, the USS Constitution is now a museum, educating all who visit about the ship’s glorious history. Anne Grimes Rand, President of the USS Constitution Museum, says, “I’ve been here for almost 30 years and been able to do what I enjoy.” Be ready to not only see the ships history, but scrub, tamp, furl, and even sign up to be a sailor—the USS Constitution Museum is all about making history a fully hands-on experience. “The museum has focused on trying to serve a family audience,” says Rand. “Lots of hands-on interactive challenges.”

 

Feel what it was like to serve as a sailor in All Hands on Deck: A Sailor’s Life in 1812. This fantastic upstairs exhibit includes climbing onto a scaled model of a yard and furling a sail, reclining back in authentic canvas hammocks that the sailors would have slept in, and even getting on your hands and knees, grabbing a holystone, and feeling what it was like to scrub the deck of the ship. “It’s building that sense of appreciation for what it was like to serve aboard the ship,” says Rand, “learning what it was like, standing aboard the ship, climbing.” More than actions, guests will get to “meet” the sailors that help keep the USS Constitution afloat.

“The personal stories are what I like best,” says Rand, “when you can bring to life someone like that through the tiny bits of research we’ve done.” Along the walls of the exhibit are life-sized cutouts of notable crew members, each with a plaque telling their own unique story aboard the USS Constitution.

In addition to learning about life on board the USS Constitution, the museum showcases the life of the ship itself, from its beginnings as lumber to the tall and glorious beauty that it is today. “It makes you think about designing them,” says Rand. “We’ve never built a navy and frigates before.” A notable part of this exhibit is one showcasing live oak, the amazing material used to build the USS Constitution. During the war of 1812, the USS Constitution was struck by the British frigate Guerriere, the largest ship the enemy commanded. Rather than being sunk, the ship merely glanced off the USS Constitution’s iron-hard sides—earning its famed nickname “Old Ironsides.”

When is the best time to visit? Summer certainly seems to be the busiest, so to avoid crowds plan on a spring or fall outing. “Over 96,000 visitors in one month, July,” says Rand, “that is a lot to keep us busy.” No matter what time of year, the museum and the USS Constitution is the perfect attraction for any family’s budget- it’s free! The museum only asks for donations, and their main goal is to share their love of the ship’s history. “The Constitution museum offers a hands-on and minds-on experience of life at sea 200 years ago aboard Old Iron Sides and makes history fun and exciting for all ages,” says Rand.

Starting in 2018 the USS Constitution will be offering harbor cruises. “It takes a while to get her fully re-rigged,” says Rand. “Next year she’ll be afloat again and back to her glory.” Seats aboard the harbor cruises are awarded via participation in a public lottery, so history buffs stay sharp and watch for news.

-By Ettractions Digital Content Editor, SARAH LEITH

Recommended Fun!

FUN IDEAS & TRAVEL TIPS

September 2017 Fun in Boston Based on a True Story Top Five Kid-Friendly Stops in Boston Top Five Sweet Stops in New York City Escape to Boston's Islands
Seriously Adventurous Mini Golf An Unexpected Culture Break at the MAD Museum Boston's Very Own Oasis The Ocean's Most Misunderstood Creature The Most Relaxing Tour in New York City The Regulars are Coming Blast from the Past Step Back into the Nineteenth Century Top Five Boston Breweries Stop and Smell the Orchids A Football Fan's Dream Mrs. Mallard Returns to Boston Music With A Heartbeat The Funniest Murder in New York City Behind the Scenes at Madame Tussauds NYC Take a Peek at a 14 Foot Tall PEZ Dispenser Real-life Ghost of Christmas Past An Arctic Sojourn at Mt. Washington Vintage Christmas at Strawbery Banke Nineteenth Century New England Christmas Somerville Chocolate Factory Life of a Sailor on Old Ironsides An In-Depth Look at Boston Duck Tours Citi Performing Arts Center Shapes the Boston Art Scene Inside Look at Cape Ann Whale Watch Touring the Dark Side of Boston Meet the Wolfman The Up and Coming Eateries of East Boston Three Top Maine Campsites Behind the Scenes of the Boston Tea Party Springtime Fun in Boston Itinerary for a Single Day in Salem Discover the best hiking trails in Massachusetts In a Jam in Sandwich Trains Trains Trains Zip Into Summer Ski Across New England Massachusetts Movie Moments Hollywood Stars in the City Visit Historic Salem in Massachusetts Historical Fun in Connecticut Family Fun in New York City Make it Count in Massachusetts History on Cape Cod Inspired Fun in New Hampshire Top Things to Do In Rhode Island Outdoor Fun in Vermont See the Beautiful Berkshires Ship Up to Boston for Historical Fun Visit the Famous Big Apple
View More

WHAT'S NEARBY?

New York: New York City

Massachusetts: Cape Cod

Other States: Connecticut Maine Massachusetts New Hampshire Rhode Island Vermont

Need printed maps & brochures for your trip?

You have now added this profile to your suitcase

You are not logged in. To login or create an account please click here