Bremerton’s Floating Museum

I started visiting Bremerton because it was the longest ferry trip from downtown Seattle (that’s how we all pick our ferries, right?). So of course it was only a matter of time before I visited the USS Turner Joy, a Vietnam era destroyer-turned-floating-museum within walking distance of the ferry terminal. When I got to the description of ladders and walkways on the destroyer’s homepage, I knew it was the perfect place to take my twin brother when he visited for our birthday (re: ladders and narrow walkways).



I’ve been thinking a lot about relevance recently, including the importance of place and the importance of visitor engagement with place. Particularly in museums. What good is a museum that isn’t engaging? The USS Turner Joy doesn’t employ cutting edge technology and clever games to engage its audience, yet it’s one of the best museum experiences I’ve ever had. Partly because of those ladders and walkways? Absolutely!


The USS Turner Joy is engaging and relevant because it is REAL. There is something to be said for preservation through roping off areas and objects from public reach (I previously worked at a historic house where this was necessary). However, the openness of the USS Turner Joy is refreshing. Go for it: open doors, climb ladders, test sonar sounds. We didn’t just learn about destroyers that day, we got to know one personally. After carefully exploring every corner and climbing up and down every ladder, I know I will not only recognize a destroyer if I see one, but I will know what it looks like inside. I can tell you how thin the hull is and how the interior is compartmentalized.

The USS Turner Joy recently traveled through the Ballard Locks, and when I caught the news photos, I knew immediately who it was. The destroyer is currently undergoing maintenance in Lake Union (keep an eye out for it–it’s a large boat!) but will be back in Bremerton and open to visitors again on March 1, 2017.



Sources and further reading:

USS Turner Joy: US Naval Destroyer Museum (the museum site has information about the history of the ship, as well as visitor details)

Watch the USS Turner Joy make its way through the Ballard Locks on its way to Lake Union (footage from Thursday, February 2, 2017).

The Kitsap Daily News on the USS Turner Joy’s trip to drydock.

What about relevance? Thinking about Nina Simon’s book, The Art of Relevance. (Part of my 2017 Preservation-Themed Reading List.)

Finally a quick shout-out to Chad. Thanks 🙂







4 thoughts on “Bremerton’s Floating Museum

  1. Your enthusiasm for this “museum experience” is palpable. I hope a lot of your readers take your advice and visit, and that they have kids along to enjoy the adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

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