The Battleship USS Iowa Museum in San Pedro is about to get one expensive makeover.
The battleship, which first arrived in the Port of Los Angeles in 2012, will get a $19 million expansion and renovation, and move south to the soon-to-be-redeveloped San Pedro Public Market on the L.A. Waterfront, officials for the museum announced this week.
The new location will land the ship near shops and restaurants, a new veterans park, and a large outdoor amphitheater. The Iowa — known as the “Battleship of Presidents” because four U.S. presidents have graced its teak decks — will share the San Pedro slip with the area’s commercial fishing fleet, an idea first floated in November.
The renovations will be finished by 2030.
“It creates a destination and a full day or multi-day experience to increase the average spending per visitor down at the waterfront,” said Jonathan Williams, president and CEO of the museum, “which ultimately generates economic impact to the community and residents.”
The makeover is ambitious: Renovations to 15,000 square feet of the Battleship Iowa Museum; adding 15,000 square feet of exhibit space by removing the unneeded berths currently occupying the battleship’s future spot; and transforming 20,000 square feet below deck to the National Museum of the Surface Navy, a first of its kind.
The surface Navy, unlike the undersea and air components of the Navy, does not currently have its own designated museum. The one at the Battleship Iowa, scheduled to open in about five years, will be its first.
“Their story has never been told in a museum,” Williams said. “It will really tell the story about why the surface Navy matters when it comes to international sea lanes and humanitarian assistance and many other things.”
A rendering shows where the Battleship Iowa will be located at to the SP Slip near San Pedro’s new waterfront redevelopment area. For the ship to move there, it will require dredging. The fishing fleet that now uses the slip would remain and co-exist with the World War II battleship. (Courtesy image, Pacific Battleship Center)
The museum also plans to construct a 20,000-to-50,000-square-foot building to “showcase on-going and transient exhibits”; it will also have a theater, classrooms and lecture halls, according to a statement about the expansion.
The Battleship Iowa — which launched in 1942 and served in several conflicts, including World War II — is a top-10 tourist destination in L.A, receiving about 450,000 visitors per year.
It will remain open during renovations.