• Groundbreaking of Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

Groundbreaking of Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

In 2020, visitors to the new Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum (formerly the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park) will experience the diversity and tenacity of the U.S. submarine force, its importance to national security, and the contributions of elite submariners throughout the last century. Having served more than 9 million guests since its initial opening in 1981, it was time to expand the exhibits, programs and tours—as well as the stories they tell. 

The recent groundbreaking for the new site was based on a simple but powerful goal: engage the next generation in the incredible stories of the USS Bowfin and the “Silent Service” as a whole. When it re-opens in 2020, the revitalized Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum will communicate the unique temperament and drive of submariners and the astounding environment in which they serve. Exhibits bring stories from World War II into the twenty-first century and link them back to decisions and innovations of nearly a century ago.

“The men and women of the submarine force have amazing stories to tell, from everyday excellence to heroic achievements,” says MIG Principal Alissa Rupp, who is overseeing the project. “It is an honor and a pleasure to assist the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum as we bring these stories to life. The museum is ready for state-of-the-art, immersive, and interactive exhibits, and for a chance to turn a fresh, contemporary face to the campus of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Its contribution to the experience of visiting Pearl Harbor will increase exponentially.” 

Forward-reaching immersive and educational technologies offer access to concepts of submarine design, strategy, and tactical abilities, while personal stories and artifacts take center stage. The design process unearthed images that had been hidden away in archives for years. The museum staff and design team teared up at family letters; they saw opportunities to connect with guests, to pass that emotional connection on to visitors. Architecture and site design will reveal the museum in a new way and improve the arrival experience for visitors. Reorienting the museum’s facade to face the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center campus welcomes diverse audiences, including veterans and history buffs, Pearl Harbor survivors and their descendants, tourists, multi-generational families, school groups and facilitated bus tours. Site renovations improve visitor circulation, highlight large outdoor artifacts, and provide inspirational views from the historic Ceremonial Lawn. Although the museum will be closed during construction, visitors can still access and tour the USS Bowfin Submarine.