National Museum of the American Sailor
Backstory and Context
Formerly the Great Lakes Naval Museum, the National Museum of the American Sailor became an official Department of the Navy Museum in 2015, operated by the Naval History and Heritage Command.
The National Museum of the American Sailor is located in Building 42 at Naval Station Great Lakes. Also known as "The Hostess House," the facility was designed in 1942 by prominent architect Gordon Bunshaft of the prestigious architectural firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM). The building was originally used during World War II as a place for sailors and their loved ones to meet and say “hellos” and “goodbyes.” After World War II, the Hostess House served various functions until it fell into disrepair and was considered for demolition. However, it was recognized as a classic example of modern American architecture and repurposed for the establishment of the museum which opened January 12, 2009. As part of a federally regulated review of U.S. government-owned properties slated for demolition, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) determined that Building 42 is very significant architecturally and merits listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The museum’s exhibits include permanent galleries related to enlisted sailors in the Age of Sail and today’s boot camp training at Recruit Training Command; and a rotating temporary gallery which explores a variety of topics relating to the lives and culture of enlisted sailors.
Throughout the year, NMAS offers free educational programming and events for families, youth, and military audiences. This includes guided tours for large groups, a Speaker’s Bureau lecture series, and large-scale STEM events for students. The museum’s collection is open to the general public for academic research via appointment. Staff is also available to assist with research requests. More information can be found on the museum’s website.
Official Website, National Museum of the American Sailor, www.history.navy.mil/nmas accessed 8/3/2020