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CEO Update November 16, 2020

IOWA and Surface Navy Museum Family:

Many of us across the country are being impacted by additional measures to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus. We continue to see businesses and organizations dealing with the ramifications of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The pandemic is disrupting lives on many different levels and I offer my heartfelt thoughts for every person and family that has been affected.


The recent news of a vaccine is creating hope across the world, and for those of us in California, it is much needed hope. Los Angeles remains in the most restrictive tier for activities and reopening in the state. This limitation has had a devastating impact on organizations and people who rely on visitation, events, gatherings, and programs as an important revenue source. Most prominent in the headlines recently is the delayed reopening of Disneyland until 2021.


During normal times, a large portion of our revenue comes from visitors and tourists. Without this traffic and the ability to offer on-board gatherings, we are simply unable to generate the necessary revenue to cover the costs of operating a historic battleship.


With all of this said, I am proud of the tremendous work our small crew continues to perform. The team is focused on transforming the organization to a national-level museum with unforgettable in-person and virtual programming. This little staff of fifteen plus a dedicated cadre of volunteers is carrying the day to make it happen. The team has come together to think through solutions and reinvent our non-profit museum to become more efficient and impactful with the resources available. The team’s focus coupled with your outpouring of love and support has kept us open and expanding our reach across the globe.


Quite simply, without your financial contributions to date and our crew’s commitment – we would have permanently closed by now! With no government funding for our operations, we must rely on each of you during this pandemic.


Don’t get me wrong – we remain in negative territory every month since the start of the pandemic, but thankfully this number is slowly shrinking. We were blessed to have great supporters, limited reserves, a major contribution, and bank support early on to allow us to plan accordingly. We cut staff, reduced expenses, and transitioned the organization to remain focused on the future. All of these measures have kept us alive.


What does the future look like?


Our Veterans Day West 2020 event last week was just the beginning of going public with these changes. The team partnered with VNEW to create a great program that premiered on Veterans Day and continues to be available for viewing on YouTube and our social media.


A new transformational addition is the creation of the Virtual Museum experience. The Virtual Museum is led by our CIO and USS Iowa veteran David Canfield. This feature is not a temporary program or a simple virtual tour / video to address an existing need. It is a permanent addition that will continue to grow in the coming years.


The new virtual museum and tour allow us to add an incredible amount of content, videos, and displays that will extend our reach globally. Additionally, this experience will allow us to tell more stories than we can in-person. Story-telling has and will continue to become part of our future DNA. Check out the tour on our website.


Thanks in large part to contributions from members of our board(s), we were able to introduce a new pierside exhibit telling the story of Surface Navy Heroes. We have also taken this opportunity to improve our arrival appearance and create a more secure environment. You can view the Surface Navy Heroes exhibit in-person or online.


It was fascinating to me over this past weekend to see how many families with kids came to visit the ship. The smiles on the faces of these young children are infectious, as they searched for Vicky the Dog and climbed the ladders of exploration. It reminds me of the experiences of my youth when discovering a new place. These memorable visitor experiences have led us to be named to the “People Love Us on Yelp” list and a “2020 Tripadvisor Travelers Choice” award winner.

battleship iowa museum people love us on yelp


I realize that you are probably fatigued by the pandemic and our continued appeal for contributions. I can assure you that I am fatigued to keep asking. This pandemic has taken so much from each of us and it feels like it will never end. I reassure you that it will end, but we will continue to need your help to get over the finish line. Please consider supporting us during our 2020 Annual Appeal. You can also support the National Museum of the Surface Navy here or mail your contribution to 250 S. Harbor Blvd., San Pedro, CA  90731. And remember to sign up for free to become a Plank Owner for the National Museum.


Thank you to each of you for your support. Whether you are a volunteer, donate, review us, subscribe to our channels, or tell your friends – you are making a difference!


Jonathan Williams

President and CEO

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