Keyport Museum may get national honor

KEYPORT — Though the Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport contains historical artifacts like torpedoes and diving suits, it may soon be known nationally for its offerings of a much more scientific nature.

Congressman Jay Inslee announced this week that he has nominated the museum for the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Service’s National Award for Museum Service. The honor is usually bestowed on three museums nation-wide each year that are high-achieving in creating innovative programs and community partnerships.

What makes the nomination all the more special for Keyport is that out of the last 21 winners of this award, only one was from the West Coast and none were from Washington. Keyport being among the winners would be a landmark occasion for the Pacific Northwest.

“Of course, we were very pleased,” museum director Bill Galvani commented. “It’s a very prestigious award. Even to be nominated is an honor.”

The program on which the nomination centers is the Science in Education Alliance (SEA). The Keyport museum has been running the alliance for the last four years. More than 4,000 students grades 3-6 from 10 school districts and five counties are served by this hands-on science experience.

Program Director Susan Crawford explained that the program includes up-to-date classroom curriculum for which teachers receive one-on-one training as well as time at the museum for students and also experiences on the waters of Liberty Bay putting their learning to the test.

“The students just get very jazzed about it and the museum has just sort of done this on their own,” Inslee commented on the program. “It’s just a superb experience at a very low cost to these districts and I think they deserve national recognition for it.”

Districts as large as Central Kitsap and Bremerton and as small as Chimicum and Quilcene take part in SEA. Besides providing guidance, the museum also offers support for the smaller schools including transportation to and from the museum and even assistance acquiring the curriculum materials.

“What we want to do is provide a barrier-free or roadblock-free access to this science curriculum,” Crawford explained.

The Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has been open to the public since 1991 and is currently under the direction of Navy Region Northwest community programs department. Inslee, who visited the Keyport museum about one month ago, said though the award nomination only pertains to the SEA program, he feels the facility plays a very important role in connecting Puget Sounders to their maritime roots.

“I don’t want to diminish the displays they have and the sort museum experiences you can have there, but we just think the (SEA) program deserves national attention,” Inslee said.

And for staff at the museum, just the fact that Inslee felt they were worthy of the recognition is enough of a kudos. Winning would be the icing on the cake.

“We were excited about it, especially coming from Congressman Inslee,” Crawford commented. “Even if we don’t get the award, part of the pat on the back is the recognition from a national level.”

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