For history enthusiasts, there’s a unique allure to exploring museums that float on the water. From grand naval vessels to historical boats, these floating museums offer glimpses into our maritime past.
Here are 15 remarkable floating museums around the world, each with its own rich history and intriguing stories to tell.
- USS Constitution Museum (Boston, USA): Step aboard the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor, the oldest commissioned warship afloat, and delve into the fascinating history of the United States Navy. Explore the museum’s exhibits and learn about the ship’s victories, crew life, and Old Ironsides’ enduring legacy. Website: www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org
- Cutty Sark (London, UK): Step aboard the legendary Cutty Sark, the world’s last surviving tea clipper. Explore the ship’s history, discover its role in the China tea trade, and experience life at sea during the golden age of sail. Website: www.rmg.co.uk/cutty-sark
- USS Midway Museum (San Diego, USA): Embark on the USS Midway, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier-turned-museum, and delve into the fascinating world of naval aviation. Explore the ship’s extensive exhibits, including restored aircraft, interactive exhibits and displays, and firsthand accounts from former crew members. Website: www.midway.org
- HMS Belfast (London, UK): Climb aboard the HMS Belfast, a Royal Navy cruiser that played a vital role in World War II. Discover the ship’s wartime experiences, explore its nine decks, and gain insights into the daily lives of the crew. Website: www.iwm.org.uk/visits/hms-belfast
- Maritime Museum of San Diego (San Diego, USA): Experience a collection of historic ships at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. This is one of the few options on the west coast of the US. From the iconic Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship, to the Cold War-era Soviet submarine B-39, each of the historic vessels offer a captivating glimpse into seafaring history. Website: www.sdmaritime.org
- Museum Ship Pommern (Mariehamn, Åland Islands): Step aboard the four-masted barque Pommern, a Finnish merchant ship that sailed the world’s oceans in the early 20th century. Explore the ship’s interior, exhibitions, and learn about its global trading voyages. Website: www.pommern.ax
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (New York City, USA): Discover the legendary aircraft carrier USS Intrepid and its extensive collection of historic aircraft. Uncover the ship’s role in World War II, the Cold War, and its subsequent transformation into a captivating museum. Website: www.intrepidmuseum.org
- Royal Yacht Britannia (Edinburgh, UK): Explore the luxurious Royal Yacht Britannia, which served as the floating residence of the British royal family for over 40 years. This historic site allows you to walk in the footsteps of kings and queens as you tour the vessel’s opulent state rooms, visit the onboard exhibits, and learn about its fascinating history. Website: www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk
- Battleship Missouri Memorial (Honolulu, USA): Step onto the deck of the USS Missouri, famously known as the “Mighty Mo.” Explore the battleship that witnessed the end of World War II as the site of the Japanese surrender. Discover its powerful guns, walk through the historic spaces, and gain insights into its remarkable military history. Website: www.ussmissouri.org
- Seaplane Tender USS Curtiss (Key West, USA): Visit the USS Curtiss, a seaplane tender that played a vital role in the Pacific during World War II. This floating museum offers a unique perspective on naval aviation history and its importance in the defense of the United States. Website: www.nps.gov/npnh/learn/historyculture/usscurtiss.htm
- Museo del Bucanero (La Habana, Cuba): Discover the Museo del Bucanero, housed within the real-life pirate ship “El Galeón.” Uncover the fascinating history of piracy in the Caribbean, learn about famous buccaneers, and explore the ship’s exhibits dedicated to this thrilling era. Website: www.galeon-san-cristobal.com
- Royal Navy Submarine Museum (Gosport, UK): Descend into the depths of history at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. Step aboard HMS Alliance, the only remaining British World War II-era submarine, and gain insight into the daily life of submariners. Explore interactive displays, simulators, and discover the evolution of submarine technology as you learn about British naval history. Website: www.nmrn.org.uk/submarine-museum
- Museo del Galeón Andalucía (Seville, Spain): Immerse yourself in the golden age of Spanish exploration by visiting the Museo del Galeón Andalucía. Step aboard the replica of a 16th-century Spanish galleon and learn about Spain’s maritime history, seafaring expeditions, and their impact on global exploration. Website: www.fundacionnaovictoria.org/museo-galeon-andalucia
- Chatham Historic Dockyard (Kent, UK): Explore the Chatham Historic Dockyard, home to several historic ships and maritime museums. From the HMS Cavalier, a World War II destroyer, to the Victorian naval sloop HMS Gannet, each vessel offers a unique perspective on Britain’s naval heritage. Website: www.thedockyard.co.uk
- Vasa Museum (Stockholm, Sweden): Witness the perfectly preserved Vasa warship, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was salvaged centuries later. Marvel at the ship’s intricate craftsmanship and learn about the events leading to its tragic demise. The Vasa was recovered and rebuilt and is now housed in the Vasa Museum (so technically, it is no longer floating on its own). Website: www.vasamuseet.se
From mighty warships to graceful sailing vessels, these 15 floating museums provide captivating windows into our maritime history. Embarking on a journey through these incredible destinations allows us to immerse ourselves in the stories of seafaring heroes, technological innovations, and pivotal moments in naval warfare. So, set sail on an adventure, and let these floating museums transport you to bygone eras of maritime splendor and discovery.