With Fleet Week already well underway in New York City, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is preparing to commemorate another important milestone this year.
August marks the 30th year the Military museum has been housed in a decommissioned World War II U.S. Navy aircraft carrier docked on Manhattan’s West Side, and people from Michelle Branch to Spiderman have been sending congratulations to the museum. Moreover, two new exhibits at the Intrepid museum will give avid Navy and Coast Guard buffs a new look at some of the Intrepid’s most notable acquisitions over the past 30 years.
Of course, Intrepid’s most impressive recent acquisition has to be the Space Shuttle Enterprise, which also opens to the public this July. But the Intrepid is also home to hundreds of much humbler items that reveal a great deal about every day life for the men and women who work to protect America at home and abroad. And the new exhibit “Thirty Years of Collecting: Treasures from Intrepid’s Collections” focuses on the personal effects of former crew members, inviting reflection on the humanity behind the hardware.
Opening July 27, this temporary exhibit at the Intrepid features memorabilia related to a sailor’s life aboard a ship, including a US Navy pilot’s helmet circa 1942–45 used by Marine pilot, Samuel B. Folsom, as well as commemorative pieces from the collection of Admiral Joseph James “Jocko” Clarke, a US Navy admiral who commanded aircraft carriers during World War II.
Meanwhile the Intrepid’s 30th Anniversary exhibit will pay tribute to the Sea, Air & Space Museum’s institutional history. After serving in World War II and then later in the Vietnam War, the USS Intrepid retired from service in 1973. But it wasn’t until six years later that the New York real estate developer Zachary Fisher founded the Intrepid Museum Foundation, saving the defunct aircraft carrier from the scrap yard.
In August 1982, the Intrepid Museum opened with exhibits celebrating the aircraft carrier’s Navy service and exploring the history of flight. A few years later in 1986, the Intrepid was designated a National Historic Landmark in recognition of its role in Pacific battles during World War II. The following year marked the first Fleet Week in New York City, a tradition that has only grown over the last 25 years. Today as many as 6,000 service members descend on NYC for the week-long celebration.
Also opening July 27, “Thirty Years of Excellence: An Intrepid Museum Celebration” includes photographs, documents and selected artifacts that highlight the evolution of the Intrepid from attack carrier to national treasure. The exhibit will highlight its participation in Fleet Week, which is currently underway in New York City.
In addition to these temporary exhibits and the soon-to-be-revealed Space Shuttle, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum offers visitors a close-up look at a remarkable collection of aircraft, from the World War II Avenger torpedo bomber, to the A-12 Blackbird, a Cold War spy plane. Other highlights include the USS Growler, the only American diesel-powered strategic missile submarine open to the public, and the supersonic passenger jet the Concorde.
If you could get behind the controls of one of the Intrepid’s main exhibits, which would you choose? The submarine, bomber, or space shuttle?