One of New York City's great sights appears when you’re trundling down the West Side Highway and suddenly you see, docked in the Hudson River…an aircraft carrier. And not just an aircraft carrier—one with planes on top of it! It’s the Intrepid, and if it’s awe-inspiring to look at it, it’s even better to visit. Visiting the Intrepid Museum is like stepping into a living time capsule—an immersive experience that unveils the evolution of aviation, maritime history, and space exploration.
And now is the perfect time to do it, since the museum has been going through a rebranding that sees it now officially called the Intrepid Museum (formerly the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum) and sports an updated logo and website.
What Will You See?
As you approach Pier 86 along the West Side Highway, the imposing silhouette of the Intrepid is an immediate attention-grabber. But the real adventure begins when you cross the gangway and find yourself on the expansive flight deck. Start your exploration with the aircraft collection, a mesmerizing array that spans from the legendary Concorde to the sleek lines of supersonic spy planes. Enterprise, the world's first space shuttle, takes pride of place, paving the way for the United States' space shuttle program—a must-see for any space enthusiast.
The much-loved collection includes Enterprise, the world’s first space shuttle; it paved the way for the United States’ space shuttle program; and Growler, the only nuclear-weapons-carrying submarine open to the public. Dozens of military aircraft, including fighter jets, a supersonic spy plane, and the Concorde, the world’s fastest commercial airliner, are also on display.
Also not to be missed: the Exploreum, a completely interactive exhibit space designed for kids (of all ages). It includes a Bell 47 helicopter (yes, you can climb into it); an interactive submarine, even a sailor’s bunk (yes, you can lay in it).
The museum experience, however, is about more than the incredible aircraft on view and the amazing technology behind it. While navigating the museum, keep an eye out for the stories woven into the exhibits. The tales of heroism, sacrifice, and dedication echo through the corridors, adding a profound layer to the technological wonders on display. Take a moment to absorb these narratives, and you'll find that the Intrepid Museum is not just a repository of artifacts; it's a chronicle of human resilience and triumph.
The eye-catching new logo shows the aircraft carrier as seen from the bow. Three colored panels surround it; they subtly suggest the Museum’s collection of space vehicles (black), seafaring vessels (sea blue) and aircraft (sky blue). The new logo simplifies the shape of the bow of the ship, which is the view most visitors encounter when approaching the Museum’s entrance. When this shape is rotated, it changes into the silhouette of an aircraft in flight and a spacecraft lifting into the sky.
The Museum has also launched an updated website at IntrepidMuseum.org. It offers a design that features the new logo and color scheme, easier ticket purchasing, and enhanced navigation for both desktop and mobile.
According to Susan Marenoff-Zausner, president of Intrepid Museum, the rebranding coincided with the 40th anniversary of the museum as well as the 80th anniversary of the ship itself. She explains that it was time to honor the past, as well as to reflect what the museum is now—and where it’s going. Founded in 1982 with the acquisition of the aircraft carrier Intrepid—now a National Historic Landmark—the museum now plays host to more than one million visitors annually, from across the globe.
What Else Does the Intrepid Museum Offer?
In addition to its collection, the museum offers a robust program of offerings for a wide audience, especially underserved communities, individuals with physical, cognitive, and sensory disabilities, and veterans. School, professional development, and STEM programs are also available; the Museum reaches more than 55,000 students each year. Marenoff-Zausner stresses the museum’s goal to be as inclusive as possible, which means reaching audiences in as many ways as they are able to. This goal is reflected in the programs aimed at the 18-30 crowd (i.e., movie nights and cocktails) which has increased in recent years, as well as an incredible roster of resources, such as The Social Narrative, a guide on what to expect during a museum visit, and a Sensory Guide, which highlights everything from noise level to wheelchair accessibility in different parts of the museum.
Can’t make it to the museum in person? No problem: online resources, which include videos and virtual tours, are available. You’ll also find incredible ways of exploring the ship when you’re there: Marenoff-Zausner gives the example of a 3-D scanning that was done of the entire ship. This paved the way for technology that allows visitors to now use tablets and hold them up to specific areas in the ship, giving the viewer a glimpse of what it was like on the ship when it was still in service.
There’s so much to see, do and explore that it may take well take several trips to take it all in. And while the museum’s president doesn’t play favorites, she is partial to the secret passageways (!) in the ship’s foc’s’le (short for forecastle)—the forward deck.
The Intrepid is one of the city’s great treasures—for its history, its window into the past, its celebration of achievement--and its ability to make it all accessible for many audiences and many generations. It truly offers the gift of making the past accessible. Is it worth a visit? Unequivocally--and not just once, but numerous times, because there are old favorites to visit--and always something new to discover.
How to Get There:
Pier 86, 46th Street
New York, NY 10036
Take any subway to Times Square/42nd Street.
Take the M42 bus West to Hudson River (12th Avenue)
When to go:
Fall and winter hours:
(Oct. 1-March 31)
10:00 AM -5:00 PM (last entry at 4:00 PM)
Spring and summer hours:
(Apr. 1-Sept 30)
10:00 AM-5:00 PM (last entry 4:00 PM)
Saturdays and Sundays:
10:00 AM-6:00 PM (last entry 5:00 PM)
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
You’ll have a bit of a walk, but Ellen’s Stardust Diner (1650 Broadway) and the Times Square Diner (807 8th Avenue) offer a wide variety of choices—good picks if you’re with kids (or picky eaters.)
You’re close to Broadway; take in the sights and visit the Museum of Broadway (145 West 45th Street).
For more information: intrepidmuseum.org