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Home : Home : Warfare Centers : NSWC Carderock : Resources : Curator of Navy Ship Models

Curator of Navy Ship Models

The U.S. Department of the Navy Ship Model Program collects, preserves, interprets, and displays scale models in federal museums and offices and in state and local public educational museums and facilities. Depicting the rich tradition, historical heritage, and technological development of the United States Navy from earliest times to the present, the Department of the Navy Ship Model Collection is recognized as a precious national treasure.


Our Background

In 1883, the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair began a policy of constructing and retaining contemporary exhibition-type models of most new classes of warships. Since 1942 the program has been located at the David Taylor Model Basin in West Bethesda, Maryland. Under the auspices of the Bureau's successor, the Naval Sea Systems Command, the collection has grown to about 3,000 models.

Our Program

The Department of the Navy Ship Model Program is administered by the Office of the Curator of Models at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division Headquarters, West Bethesda, Maryland. 

Our staff

Our staff is composed of a curator and three ship model conservators. We have a capacious workshop/ laboratory outfitted for ship model research, conservation, and construction. Most of the 3,000 models in the collection are loaned to other institutions for display and few are in storage at the Model Basin. We maintain paper, photographic, and electronic records concerning the condition, origin, history, and location of models in the collection. 

Our Sponsors

The Ship Model Program is jointly sponsored by the Naval Sea Systems Command;the Navy History and Heritage Command; and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division.

Display Sites

Our program does not have a museum dedicated to displaying our models. Models located at our West Bethesda, Maryland office are chiefly those undergoing conservation or in transit. Relatively few are in storage. The Navy Museum in Washington, D.C., displays the largest numbers of our models. However, many other museums nationwide have borrowed and currently display elements of the collection.


Technical Information
Specifications for Building Exhibition Ship Models
This paper offers guidelines pertaining to the durability, materials, paint, inspection and delivery of exhibition ship models.

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Lead Corrosion in Exhibition Ship Models
This paper offers a discussion of the effect of various media with materials used in model constructions.

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Questions and Answers
  1. What types of models are in the collection?
  2. What is the scope of the collection?
  3. What is the range of the collection?
  4. What was the original purpose of the collection's models?
  5. Where are display sites?
  6. What are the major model materials?
  7. What are model builders?
  8. Where are models of old ships made?
  9. What models are made by the Gibbs and Cox Company?
  10. How do you buy, sell, donate and dispose of a model?
  11. How do you loan models?
  12. How do I learn about a particular model?
  13. How can I get a copy of: Fouled Anchors: The 'Constellation' Question Answered?
  14. Can I visit the curator of Navy ship models?
  15. What if I am a ship model building hobbyist? 
  16. How do you repair ship models?
  17. How do you appraise ship models?
  18. What ship models are in the collection?

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