The annual awards program recognizes non-federal organizations, including museums and individuals, for incorporating the history and heritage of the United States Navy into their publications, documents, and artifacts at their facilities. Applicants were assessed on their ability to encourage and publicize scholarly materials or lectures that depict the Navy’s history and heritage and on the organization’s ability to preserve and maintain artifacts on loan from the Navy.

The winners of NHHC’s 2022-2023 Museum Excellence Awards were:

·       History and Heritage Excellence Pennant:
o   Stockton Maritime Museum

·       Maintenance Excellence Pennant:
o   USS HORNET Sea, Air and Space Museum
o   Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum
o   Independence Seaport Museum

·       Curatorial Excellence Pennant:
o   USS HORNET Sea, Air and Space Museum

A core NHHC mission is to honor those who served in the Navy and to educate the American people on the nation’s rich Navy legacy.

“The Navy has limited resources to meet its mission of sharing our Navy’s heritage,” said Jeff Barta, Deputy Assistant Director of NHHC’s Museums Division, who currently manages 10 of the Navy’s museums across the country. “Our partnership with our HNSA partners really acts as a force multiplier for us. We’re able to share best practices and optimize what we do have.  What this means is this collaboration expands our shared goals to recognize our service veterans and to inspire our next generation of Navy heroes.

The History and Heritage Excellence Pennant is presented to an organization for outstanding overall achievement in its operations, to include, curation/conservation, exhibitory, and Navy history education to the public.

The Stockton Maritime Museum earned recognition for their efforts in History and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programming. Their efforts, in collaboration with the San Joaquin Build Futures Academy, to add plumbing for a fire suppression system aboard USS LUCID adds an additional layer of protection to this priceless piece of Naval heritage.

The Maintenance Excellence Pennant is presented to an organization that has demonstrated outstanding improvement of the condition of an artifact over the past year.

The USS Hornet Sea, Air and Space Museum demonstrated their dedication to naval heritage with the care and restoration of an S-2 Tracker Aircraft. Originally acquired in 2000 from a private owner, the full exterior restoration of the S-2 aircraft began in 2020 and concluded in January 2022. The museums restoration efforts culminated in a Memorial Day event dedicated to former USS Hornet S-2 crew members who went missing in action.

The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum earned the Maintenance Excellence Pennant through the successful dry-docking of USS Bowfin. The dry-docking enabled the museum team to make a variety of repairs including the reapplication of the ceramic base paint, the incorporation of a new cathodic protection system and a new topside electrical distribution system. The dry-docking marks only the third time USS Bowfin has been docked since it’s decommissioning in 1954 and ensures the ship is safe for public display through 2040.

The Independence Seaport Museum earned recognition for their efforts on the below waterline hull maintenance of USS Olympia through the innovative use of a cofferdam. Prior to this undertaking the steel hulled vessel was unable to be towed to dry-dock and its continued operation as a museum was questioned. However, the efforts of the museum team have stabilized the ship’s hull and made future restoration projects possible.

The Curatorial Excellence Pennant is awarded to an organization that has achieved excellence in the curation of the collections in its care, including maintaining and interpreting Navy artifacts on loan from NHHC.

The USS Hornet Sea, Air and Space Museum was recognized for their recent exhibit on the history of African Americans in the Military, as well as their display and conservation of a Biological Isolation Garment (BIG). Their History of African Americans in the Military exhibit highlights black service members who earned valor and distinction throughout our nation’s history. The BIG suit conservation efforts included various repairs using an innovative technique involving the use of external magnets.

For additional information on the Museum Excellence Awards, visit:

NHHC, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for preserving, analyzing, and disseminating U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC comprises many activities, including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, ten museums, USS Constitution repair facility, and the historic ship Nautilus. 

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Naval History and Heritage Command’s Deputy Assistant Director for Museums Division and retired naval aviator, Jeff Barta, stands with USS SLATER DE-766 Program Manager Shanna Shuster and Executive Director Tim Rizzuto beside the historic ship mu...