Naval museum moves into Building 50

Erica Varga fro the Keyport Undersea Warfare Museum was one of many people helping the Naval Memorial Museum of the Pacific into its new building. - Phtoto by Charles Melton
Erica Varga fro the Keyport Undersea Warfare Museum was one of many people helping the Naval Memorial Museum of the Pacific into its new building.
— image credit: Phtoto by Charles Melton

This past week marked the true beginning of the end of an era as the mountain of Navy artifacts, exhibits and other items from the Naval Memorial Museum of the Pacific made the short trip to Building 50.

Since 1954 the museum has been the keeper of the naval history of not only Bremerton, but the entire Puget Sound area and has been run by volunteers throughout its history.

That all will change at 10 a.m. Aug. 24 when the museum opens in historic Building 50 under the operations of the Navy and ownership of the city.

“It’s mixed feelings,” said Lyle Nelson, president of the Naval Memorial Museum of the Pacific, on Wednesday morning as crews from Allied Moving began loading trucks at the museum’s Fourth Avenue and Pacific Avenue location and unloading them at Building 50.

“It’s like you’re giving up something you’re used to and starting into a new venture,” Nelson said. “It will be a completely different museum.”

Volunteers will run the gift shop in the new location, but the museum itself will be professionally staffed and have rotating exhibits, he said.

“I think it’s going to be a real showcase for the the city and the Puget Sound area, because it’s going to have rotating exhibits and professionally done exhibits,” he said.

The move itself has gone smoothly so far, and it helps that the senior mover is the same person, who helped the museum move five years ago, he said.

“They’re doing a great job,” Nelson said as movers continued packing and moving artifacts out of the museum’s old location.

Although Congressman Norm Dicks has been instrumental in the ongoing revitalization of Bremerton, the museum’s grand opening will be a special day.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Dicks said. “I think it’s important to highlight our history, the history of the shipyard and the history of the Navy in Kitsap County.”

The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is the premier shipyard in the U.S. Navy and has a storied history of which many people are unaware, he said.

“During World War II many of the ships that were hit in Pearl Harbor made their way back to Bremerton,” he said. “In fact, President (Franklin Delano) Roosevelt visited twice to thank them for a job well done.”

The museum idea had been talked about for years, so it’s great to finally see it become a reality, he said.

“It is a vital part of the revitalization of our downtown,” Dicks said.

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