NOAA 2004-R491
Contact: David Hall

NOAA News Releases 2004
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs

The Mariners’ Museum and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, today broke ground at the Newport News, Va.-based museum on the USS Monitor Center, a $30 million state-of-the-art exhibition and conservation facility focused on the famed Civil War ironclad. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The groundbreaking of the USS Monitor Center marks the day this 63,500-square-foot addition becomes a reality,” said The Mariners’ Museum President and CEO, John B. Hightower.

The USS Monitor Center will be a national authority and repository for the recovered artifacts, and for other materials, research and programming related to the history of the famous USS Monitor that revolutionized naval warfare. The center will be comprised of a major exhibition, a state-of-the-art conservation facility and a research center. The story of the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia, which the Monitor engaged in an epic battle off Hampton Roads, Va., on March 9, 1862, will play a major role in the center.

“When completed, the USS Monitor Center will be an exciting and informative destination that will bring the story of this Civil War icon to life, while honoring the memory and dedicated service of the Monitor’s officer and crew,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA is proud to join with The Mariners’ Museum in breaking ground on the USS Monitor Center.”

“The USS Monitor Center exemplifies the goals that are the foundation of the Bush Administration's Preserve America initiative," said John L. Nau, III, chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which helps administer the Preserve America effort. “These goals include establishing successful public-private partnerships, greater shared knowledge about the nation's past, strengthened regional identities and local pride, and support for the economic vitality of communities.”

In 1987, NOAA designated The Mariners’ Museum as the repository for artifacts and archives from the USS Monitor. Since then The Mariners’ Museum has received more than 1,100 artifacts from the Monitor, including the steam engine, propeller and revolving gun turret.

The Mariners’ Museum is conducting a $30 million capital campaign for the USS Monitor Center. NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, which manages Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, has provided $9.5 million in federal funds contributing toward the $20 million that will be raised from public sources. The Mariners’ Museum is conducting a $10 million private sector campaign raising funds from corporations, foundations and individuals across the nation. The USS Monitor Center will open on March 9, 2007.

The Mariners’ Museum, an educational, non-profit institution accredited by the American Association of Museums, preserves and interprets maritime history through an international collection of ship models, figureheads, paintings and other maritime artifacts. To learn more about the Mariners’ Museum, please visit

The Mariners’ Museum and The South Street Seaport Museum of New York City are partners in America’s National Maritime Museum, an innovative alliance recognized by an act of Congress in June 1998 to share collections, exhibitions, educational programs, publications and other endeavors.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:


The Mariners’ Museum:

USS Monitor Center:

National Marine Sanctuary Program:

Monitor National Marine Sanctuary: