Independence Seaport Museum
Penns Landing on the Delaware River
211 South Columbus Blvd. & Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 413-8655 • (215) 413-8630 Groups

Places Nearby:
Powel House
Physick House
Mario Lanza Museum
Norman Rockwell Museum
United States Mint
Independence National Historic Park
Elfreth's Alley
Fireman's Hall
NJ State Aquarium
More in:

Other States:

Formerly the Philadelphia Maritime Museum, the Independence Seaport Museum re-opened recently amidst the cultural attractions of Penn's Landing. Dozens of state-of-the-art attractions make this museum the Mid-Atlantic's preeminent facility for the preservation and sharing of the maritime heritage of Delaware River and Bay.

One permanent exhibit, Home Port: Philadelphia, unites the museum's collection of maritime objects, artifacts and art with interactive exhibits. Some highlights include Bound for Philadelphia, where visitors chart a course for Penn's Landing and learn about navigation. Coming to America illustrates the experience of 19th-century immigrants. Ship via Philadelphia uses a touch-screen computer and other media to explore commerce and trade from the 18th-century to the present. Of Wood, Iron and Steel is a unique interactive exhibit that fosters an understanding of the changing technologies in ship building. Protecting the Nation features a general quarters drill aboard the actual bridge of the guided missile destroyer USS Lawrence. And The Great Outdoors is a re-creation of the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge that encourages an awareness of the issues surrounding waterfront development and its impact on the environment.

Diver of the Deep, the second permanent installation, is a fascinating study of the development of diving. Exhibits include The Call of the Sea, chronicling man's first attempts to descend beneath the waves -- all the way back to 430 BC, when Alexander the Great used a diving bell! Hard Hat Diving uses an audio-visual presentation and other devices to illustrate the invention of the diving helmet and suit and their myriad of uses. A New Era in Underwater Exploration highlights the introduction of SCUBA gear. Offshore Oil explores the technology behind drilling platforms and the development of diving technology, including bathyspheres, mixed-gas diving, and remote-operated vehicles. Underwater Archaeology features artifacts recovered from sunken ships and explores this fascinating aspect of diving.

The above two exhibits provide many hours of fun and education, and they are only the beginning! Workshop on the Water is an active boat building shop that completes about five small wooden vessels each year. Visitors can watch the progress as well as take part in hands-on boat-building workshops that are offered twice per year.

The Historic Ship Zone, outside the Museum, features two historic war vessels and a number of smaller craft. The USS Olympia, launched in 1892, was one of the nation's first steel warships. She served in the Battle of Manila Bay, and under Commodore Dewey. Her last assignment was to bring the body of the Unknown Soldier home to its final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery.

Today visitors can tour the ship and appreciate the rugged life of America's early sailors. The barber shop, sick bay, galley, bake shop and engine room bring those adventurous days at sea to life. And a collection of paintings, photographs and artifacts throughout the vessel completes the story.

The World War II submarine USS Becuna gives visitors the chance to glimpse the lives of members of the nation's "silent service." Prepare to do some ducking as you tour these tight quarters.

The Becuna was commissioned in 1944 as the submarine flagship of the Southwest Pacific Fleet under General Douglas MacArthur. Very active during the war, the sub was awarded four Battle Stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for her efforts. There are only a few WW II subs on display in the country, and this is one of them.

There is more to this Museum complex, including a variety of changing exhibitions. The Museum Library contains more than 12,000 volumes, 25,000 historical photographs, 8,800 boat plans and hundreds of charts and maps, all available for those wanting to research our maritime past.

Groups of 20 or more people are eligible for discount admission.

School Groups can enjoy more than ten Educational Lessons, each about an hour long. Lessons can be adapted for most grade levels and include the following, to name a few.

  • Navigation shows how the early explorers used the compass, astrolabe, leadline and sandglass to discover and map the New World.
  • Whales and Whalers: why whales were such a valuable commodity during the 1800's, and how the whaling industry almost destroyed an entire species.
  • Lighthouses follows the development of these important and romantic structures. from bonfires on cliffs to modern automated illumination.
  • Ships of the Explorers illustrates a 1600's transatlantic voyage and the adventures that awaited merchants on the banks of the Delaware.
  • Colonial Merchants shows how Philadelphia became the second-largest English-speaking city in the world during the colonial era, and the importance of the transoceanic and coastal trade.
  • Wooden Ship Building demonstrates the tools and materials used to construct wooden boats.

Other maritime subjects are covered in the remaining programs, all designed to create and hold students' interest.All told, this is a wonderful resource for families and groups of all ages. And, with great plans for the future, the Independence Seaport Museum is still growing.

Hours: Open every day from 10 am - 5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Adults $13.50
Seniors (65+) $10.00
Students $10.00
Children $10.00
Military $10.00
Children under 2 FREE.
Pay $5.00 after 5pm, Thursday thru Saturday, for a SHIP ONLY or MUSEUM ONLY ticket. Visitors wishing to visit both the Museum and Historic ships must purchase a regular full-price ticket.
A variety of discounted Group packages is available. Call (215) 413-8630 for info.
Group Reservations: At least 4 weeks in advance. 50% deposit must be received 2 weeks ahead.
Lunch: Nearby restaurants.
Handicapped Access: Museum is accessible, ships are not.
Directions: Located at Penn's Landing, at the foot of the Walnut St.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.