Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Independence Seaport Museum

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Established  1961
Visitors  84,000 (2011)
Curator  Craig Bruns
Founded  1961
Type  Maritime Museum
Director  John Brady (CEO)
Phone  +1 215-413-8655
Independence Seaport Museum
Location  Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Address  211 South Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19106, United States
Hours  Closed now Saturday10AM–5PMSunday10AM–5PMMonday10AM–5PMTuesday10AM–5PMWednesday10AM–5PMThursday10AM–5PMFriday10AM–5PM
Public transit access  SEPTA Market-Frankford Line, SEPTA City Transit Division surface routes
Similar  National Museum of American, Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, Barnes Foundation, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fin, The Fabric Workshop and Muse

The Independence Seaport Museum (formerly the Philadelphia Maritime Museum) seeks to deepen the appreciation, understanding and experience of the Philadelphia region's waterways through history, science, art and community. It was founded in 1961 and is located in the Penn's Landing complex along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Independence Seaport Museum has one of the largest maritime art, artifact, and archival collections in North America, two National Historic Landmark ships and the J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library. It offers a boatbuilding workshop, small boat rentals, hands-on exhibits, and a Citizen Science Lab.


Independence seaport museum


In 1961, maritime collector J. Welles Henderson felt that Philadelphia's maritime history had been forgotten, and was frustrated that his city lacked a maritime museum like those in New England. So he rented a room in the Athenaeum on Washington Square, set out his personal collection of maritime items, and opened the Philadelphia Maritime Museum.

In 1974, the museum moved to 321 Chestnut Street, into a building built in 1898 for the First National Bank.

In 1995, the museum moved to Penn's Landing along the Delaware River, after spending $15 million to renovate a building used by the Port of History Museum, which had closed two years earlier. It was renamed the Independence Seaport Museum.

In June 2007, former Independence Seaport Museum president John S. Carter pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and tax evasion from misappropriating about US$2.5 million in funds from the museum. He received a 15-year sentence in federal prison. Carter, who was president of the museum from 1989 to March 2006, was accused of using money from the museum to buy numerous personal items, including two boats, an espresso machine and a carriage house for his home in Cape Cod between 1997 and 2006.

In February 2010, museum officials announced that the cruiser Olympia needed $10 to $20 million for hull repairs to prevent her from sinking and would consider transferring her to a new steward. The Seaport Museum held a preservation summit in March 2011, and shortly thereafter announced that qualified interested organizations could apply for stewardship of Olympia through a transfer application process vetted by a review panel of historic ship and preservation experts.

In April 2011, John Brady was named the Seaport Museum's new president. Brady was formerly the longtime director of the Workshop on the Water, the museum's boat shop specializing in the building and restoration of traditional wooden boats.

Current Exhibits

There are many maritime artifacts, ship models, and full-sized boats in the permanent and interactive exhibitions. The exhibits focus on the Port of Philadelphia, trade, immigration, shipbuilding, and deep sea submersibles. There are two historic ships displayed near the museum. They are the Spanish–American War-era cruiser USS Olympia, one of the United States' first steel warships, and the World War II submarine USS Becuna.

Patriots and Pirates

In April 2016 the Independence Seaport Museum opened a new exhibit exploring Philadelphia's connection to the founding of the United States Navy. As the name suggests, Patriots and Pirates, examines the conflict between pirates and the United States, and features a full-size, 102 foot waterline model of Diligence of 1797 that visitors can climb aboard. Interactive games and simple machines help visitors learn how sailors built and sailed ships. Some notable artifacts in the exhibit include a rare 1793 letter from an American taken hostage by pirates, Captain John Barry's octant, a model of the Federal St. Navy Yard recreating Joshua Humphreys' 18th century shipyard, and a painting of the Philadelphia merchant ship Pigou. The exhibit was curated by ISM chief curator Craig Bruns and the replica of Diligence was constructed by staff and volunteers from workshop on the water.

Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River

Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River, curated by University of Pennsylvania Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies Tukufu Zuberi, opened in May 2013. This exhibit explores the notion of freedom through the lens of the African experience along the Delaware and focuses on the four key themes of slavery, emancipation, Jim Crow, and civil rights. Tides of Freedom is an interactive exhibit that includes videos, recordings, and eye-witness accounts. On display at the exhibit is "Waste Book B," an 18th century account book which recorded daily business transactions along the Delaware River and documented the sale of over 50 slaves.

Rescues on the River

Rescues on the River tells the story of maritime disasters along the Delaware River, exploring their historical impact, and celebrating the brave individuals and first responders who risked their lives to save others. On display at this interactive exhibit are life jackets, ship wreckage, and historic newspaper prints.

Boat Shop

The Independence Seaport Museum's boat shop, Workshop on the Water, is dedicated to the skills and traditions of wooden boat building and sailing in the Delaware Valley and the New Jersey shore. The workload includes new builds and restorations of historically significant wooden boats. Past projects include catboats, sandbaggers, sneakboxes, whitehalls, marsh cats, and Beetle whaleboats. The shop's current project is a full-scale replication of a 1700s coastal schooner in a colonial-era shipyard.


Independence Seaport Museum Wikipedia