Reopened facility adds life to Navy history

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History is often a word that people associate with textbooks and professors speaking in monotones. But with the Naval Academy Museum's complete renovation and redesign, the history of the U.S. Navy has become something real and vibrant to academy visitors and midshipmen.

The museum reopened two weeks ago after undergoing an $11.6 million head-to-toe makeover.

"We completely gutted this building," said Scott Harmon, the museum director. The only things left standing at one point, he said, were "the outside walls and the concrete floors."

The new museum has a ship model gallery on the second floor and exhibits on the first floor arranged in a chronological flow, allowing the observer to watch history unfold before them...

... Each object on display holds a direct link to the Navy's history, Harmon said. The "Don't Give Up the Ship" flag that flew over the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 is preserved in a glass case on the first floor. For years the flag hung exposed to the elements inside one of the buildings on campus.

One collection of model ships was built by French prisoners of war during the Anglo-French wars, which started in the mid-1700s and lasted until 1815. The prisoners built the model ships from the bones left over from food rations in prison.

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