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The History of the Museum

In 1981, the idea for a museum dedicated to the men who trained on the beaches of Fort Pierce was born. Retired SEAL Capt. Norman Olson was brought onboard to turn the dream into a reality. With typical SEAL fortitude and ingenuity, Capt. Olson was able to get the Museum off the ground on a shoestring budget. The Navy SEAL Museum opened on Veterans Day, 1985. Once the site of a museum for pirate treasure, the building now honors the Navy SEALs and their predecessors.

From humble beginnings, the Museum has experienced tremendous growth to become a museum of national stature, drawing tens of thousands of visitors every year. From a collection of artifacts donated from attics and old trunks, the Navy SEAL Museum now displays vehicles, vessels, tactical equipment, and weaponry from the earliest days of Naval Special Warfare to today’s multifaceted global operators and headline conflicts.

The Museum is embarking on a new accelerated phase of growth with the expansion that was complete in 2011 and the acquisition of dramatic new displays, including the Mark V Special Operations Craft. The mission of the Museum has expanded with the addition of the world’s only Memorial dedicated to Naval Special Warfare operators in 2010 and with the opening of the Trident House in 2012, a respite house for SEALs and their families in need of a place to heal. Museum growth continues with the renovation of various galleries, including that of the Cold War and World War II.

Navy SEALs and their forerunners have been writing history since day one. The Museum is honored to share the pieces of the story that can be told with the proud citizens of our country and with the world.

Read more about the Museum’s start here. Capt. Norman Olson, the Museum’s founding director and a renowned retired SEAL, has provided his personal memoirs of the challenges at its origin.