On Tuesday, September 6, the Secretary of the Navy awarded the USS Iowa, a 900 foot long World War 2 era battleship, to the Pacific Battleship Group, a Los Angeles based non-profit association. Their mission is to run it as a museum and educational facility in Los Angeles Harbor.
If all goes as planned, towards the end of the year, the USS Iowa will be towed from the Suisun Bay's "Mothball Fleet" in Northern California to San Pedro. After some preliminary refit it will take up residence at Wharf 87, adjoining a multi-acre site provided by the Port of Los Angeles for parking and to build a visitors information center in the future.
This is envisioned as an entirely self-financed operation that is not dependent on the City of Los Angeles City Council for funding. The wharfing site is being made available by the Port of Los Angeles as a leased property for a fee. If the operation succeeds it will provide a focal point for the renaissance of the Port of San Pedro.
Their plans are ambitous as identified on their web site and in their master plan submitted to the Navy. See: http://www.pacificbattleship.com/index.html
Plans include developing a program of tours, an educational mission - including sleep over programs for children and families and a museum and information center that is supported by community involvement and a volunteer program. Their site plan shows a large visitors information center. (One was recommended for the Queen Mary prior to its purchase in 1967, but it has never been built.)
The educational program includes special tours and certified activities that fit into the K-12 curriculum for the LA Unified School District. Considerations of handicapped access are also included in their plans. (Handicapped access to other than the hotel decks are largely non-existent on Long Beach's Queen Mary.) Significant community outreach and involvement with the wide use of volunteers is assumed.
If they succeed with their cultural, historical and educational approach then Long Beach as a community has a great deal to learn from them. Long Beach has struggled trying to balance the cultural and educational mission of the Queen Mary with its commercial exploitation from day one. With the approval of the City Council, the Museum of the Sea was disbanded in 1976 and since that time the Queen Mary has been a purely commerial project with lip service given to museum aspects of the ship. The Queen Mary's collections have suffered from the lack of qualified personnel. Unlike both ranchos, the ship itself has no curator, rather it is run by a general business manager.
Meanwhile the City has allowed commercial operators to exploit paranormal activities only discovered -- or rather concocted -- since arriving in Long Beach, used as a site for motor cycle and tattoo events and have permitted a Halloween show, formerly named "The Shipwreck" and now called "Dark Harbor", to become the signature event of Long Beach's Queen Mary. These activities add little to the luster of the historic RMS Queen Mary, but fit in nicely with a poorly maintained facility. Meanwhile the intensive development of the adjoining 50 some acres has lanquished.
A ghoul from last years "Dark Harbor". Reliance on ghosts is a year long thing on the commercially exploited Queen Mary in Long Beach.
One of the more attractive exponents of tattoo artistry at the Queen Mary. The motor cycle and tattoo event is probably held here because the city doesn't want it ruining the image of their newer downtown developments.
The Conservation Management Plan for the RMS Queen Mary. Where is the Inventory of art and artifacts that the city administrator for the ship promised would be released "shortly" in early 2011? It was completed in 2009. What are they hiding?
A current look just behind the grand silver doors shown in the photo above.
This is the condition of the aft grand entrance to the former first class dining room, known as the Grand Salon in Long Beach. The doors are a focal point for the official photographs that are a favorite in City Hall. But what was done to the area behind these doors in the Long Beach conversion speaks far more loudly to the City' s stewardship of the Queen Mary. It was turned into a storage area and has been trashed.