JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Even though the USS Orleck Museum ship just opened to the public Wednesday — changes are already in the works.
The USS Orleck — the centerpiece of the Jacksonville Naval Museum — opened after a weeklong delay caused by Hurricane Ian. The ship has been docked on the Northbank since March, and that is where it will stay for now, but that is not the floating museum’s permanent home.
The museum was only supposed to be in the downtown spot for a short period of time. The ship got a reprieve and will stay anchored at that location for at least another month. But eventually, they are going to move down the river.
“It‘ll be definitely less than a year,” Jim Webb, Executive Director of the USS Orleck, said. “I’m the glass is half full, very confident person. So I would say we could move between three and six months from now.”
The USS Orleck will eventually end up in the Museum District — which is currently an empty lot in front of the Sheriff’s Department — where the Jacksonville Fire Museum is currently located. It’s also where the Museum of Science and History is planning to relocate.
“I mean, part of the work we’re doing with MOSH to get them over there is to again have this vibrant downtown riverfront that we’re seeing in other areas, but finally get the shipyards area, a part of that process,” Brian Hughes, Chief Administrative Officer of the Mayor’s Office, said. “So that’ll always be a mix of private development, public amenities, and we think, you know, a museum presence would be a great attraction.”
There is still work to be done in the area. The museum will receive funding from the City of Jacksonville and a state grant in order to do it.
“This is going to be a great place where you’re going to bring your family for a day, as opposed to going to just a Naval Museum,” Webb said. “Now we’re one of, you know, several museums all walkable from each other.”
There are still loose ends that need to be tied before the move. The City of Jacksonville is planning to meet with the USS Orleck next week to discuss decisions and deadlines.
News4JAX has reached out to Hyatt Hotels Corporation for a reaction about the museum’s move. We are still waiting to hear back.