Restoring an Icon: Making “Old Ironsides” New Again

There’s a lot of excitement in the Navy Yard! See USS Constitution like you have never seen her before! From 2015-2017 Constitution will be in dry dock for her first major restoration in over 20 years. This event is a unique opportunity to appreciate the remarkable structure of “Old Ironsides” and to see an active shipyard as the preservation work is underway.

The restoration is taking place in Dry Dock 1, just steps outside the USS Constitution Museum. From there you can witness the ship’s structure, revealed plank by plank, as skilled crafts people work to preserve and make “Old Ironsides” new again.

Step inside the USS Constitution Museum to be part of Constitution’s restoration history
• Meet a US Navy crewmember and chat about the restoration and about serving on board America’s oldest warship.
• Sign your name on a sheet of copper to be placed on Constitution’s hull during the restoration
• Explore artifacts and images that tell the story of the USS Constitution’s continual renewal since her first repairs in 1801 to her current restoration.
• Learn about Dry Dock 1, opened in 1833, a national civil engineering landmark located right outside the Museum’s front doors.

See the special exhibition “Making ‘Old Ironsides’ New Again”
• A model of the 1833 dry dock, used by the dry dock’s designer, Laommi Baldwin, Jr. The model will help visitors understand how a dry dock works, and the ingenuity of this early design that still provides the foundation for modern facilities today.
• A time-lapse video showing the flooding of the dry dock, Constitution entering, supports placed and subsequent emptying of the water.
• A schedule of the work to be performed, updated regularly to reflect the progress made.
• Photos and video clips of the work underway, bringing today’s visitors a glimpse of the daily progress.
• Interviews with the workers – shipwright, rigger, blacksmith – who keep 19th century skills alive today.
• Historic photos of the ship under repair in the 19th and 20th centuries, highlighting how regular repairs have preserved “Old Ironsides” for over 200 years.

Courtesy USS Constitution Museum

Courtesy USS Constitution Museum