From Ocean Depths to Outer Space

National Museum of the United States Navy

National Museum of the United States Navy

Washington Navy Yard
Washington, DC

Quinn Evans was invited to submit for a unique endeavor initiated by the Naval Heritage History and Command. Framed as an "artistic ideas competition," the contest was intended to gather diverse and innovative ideas for the design of a new National Museum of the US Navy that would capture the attention and support of Navy personnel and the public, as well as generate funding for the proposed museum.

The competition brief envisioned a modern, public-facing museum campus encompassing a new building and ceremonial courtyard, and potentially incorporating existing historic structures. The complex would consist of approximately 270,000 square feet, including approximately 100,000 square feet of net gallery space. Our design, along with four others, were named finalists.

The concepts unveiled today are a crucial step in exploring what is possible for the new National Museum of the US Navy.

The “Home Port”

Our design conceives the museum as the Navy's symbolic home port, recalling the poignant moments when sailors depart from and return to their families and communities. A series of ship-like forms, called “vessels,” are “docked” within masonry volumes.

A Multi-Environment Exploration

Drawing inspiration from the scale and material qualities of naval craft, we strategically positioned vessel-like forms within the museum to house the permanent collection. Pathways and catwalks between these forms enhance the sense of movement and progression through the exhibits.

The Honor Court

We designed the Honor Court, the museum's central courtyard, as a flexible and dynamic space that is activated by various programs in the built areas that surround it. It serves as a public park, a hub for cultural and community activities, and a venue for important naval ceremonies, such as promotions and changes of command.

Anchoring the Narrative

We distributed the Navy Museum's macro artifacts, including large planes and sections of ships and submarines, vertically and horizontally throughout the campus. Each artifact is located in a meaningful interpretive context, such as a rooftop plane silhouetted against the horizon as it would be on an aircraft carrier, or a boat “docked” in a courtyard water feature.

Immersive Learning

Tucked under the vessels, an immersive dome theater provides flexible multi-media space for both events and virtual learning and connection. The flexible space can be used for museum orientation, virtual learning, and presentations and lectures. For large events, the space can be opened to physically connect to the Honor Court.

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