NEWPORT, RI – Meticulously cataloguing and preserving ‘ship loads’ of naval warfare artifacts, documents, and cultural treasures is an ongoing battle for the U.S. Naval War College Museum.  But now the museum is getting some financial reinforcements to carry out this mission, thanks to U.S. Senator Jack Reed and a new $137,833 Save America’s Treasures grant.

The federal funds will help preserve, catalog, and digitize the museum’s expansive collection, which focuses on the U.S. Navy’s role in wars throughout history and the contributions of the Naval War College and its graduates.  The museum has a collection of over 12,000 permanent and loaned pieces, along with over 20,000 photographs, negatives, and prints, and is reflective of the United States’ evolving maritime history.  Objects in the collection include everything from historic armaments, anchors, uniforms, and ship propellers to more than 350 manuscript collections; 500 oral history interviews; 4,000 volumes in the rare books collection dating from the sixteenth century to the present; and 600 letters, journals, letterpress volumes, certificates, and commissions. 

“Preserving these objects helps us understand and connect with our maritime history.  The Naval War College Museum is home to some under-appreciated artifacts and unique treasures that highlight national and regional history.  The museum tells the story of how naval warfare changed over the years and how the world has changed because of war.  Preserving this collection helps preserve our history.  Cataloging and digitizing it helps share it with a wider audience so future scholars and audiences can study and learn from these documents, artifacts, and works of art,” said Reed, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

Located in historic Founders Hall at Naval Station Newport, the building housing the museum is itself historic: Built in 1820, the building was the original home of the Naval War College when it was established in 1884 and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. National Park Service.  The museum has been housed in Founders Hall since 1978, and underwent extensive renovations in 2015.

The federal Save America’s Treasures grant program, which Senator Reed supports with annual appropriations, is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  The grants are awarded through a competitive process and require a dollar-for-dollar non-federal match.  Partners in the Save America’s Treasures grant program include: the National Park Service; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

The Naval War College Museum’s secure, climate-controlled storage warehouse at Naval Station Newport that houses overflow items in the museum's artifact collection is at maximum capacity and requires expansion.  A bid has gone out to construct a new facility.

The Naval War College Museum is open to the public (visits must be scheduled in advance so a background check can be completed for entry to the Newport facility).  The Naval War College Museum is one of 10 U.S. Navy museums and operates under the Naval History and Heritage Command in cooperation with the U.S. Naval War College.  The mission of the museum serves the public information objectives of the U.S. Navy and the Naval War College’s educational objectives. The museum secondarily supports other Navy schools at Naval Station Newport through public education programs in naval history and programs for Navy education in its traditional uses of history as part of its curriculum.