Current Exhibits


Philadelphia Sculptors, together with the Dina Wind Art Foundation, is collaborating with the Independence Seaport Museum to sponsor FLOW, an exhibition of floating sculptural installations. The artworks will be sited in the boat basin adjacent to the Museum at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River in Philadelphia. The intent of the exhibition is to unite art with the river, and with the Museum’s mission and programming.  Five juried artists, along with five invited artists previously selected, will interpret the river and how it affects, and is affected by, human and natural history; human and natural migrations; climate change and the environment; economic development; and political currents. The geographic focus of the show is on the Americas. 

Read more about the exhibit and participating artists here.

The British Mistake

Forgotten are the events that brought embarrassment to a king.

Spring 1778. King George III ordered the evacuation of the city his forces captured just months earlier at a great price. Alongside the evacuation, the monarch offered peace negotiations to discuss ending the war and co-existing in relative harmony. But there was one glaring omission: The colonies’ independence. What would you do if you were in their situation? Accept the terms? Or keep fighting?

How did we get here, you might ask, especially given the string of losses the Continental Army suffered in 1777? Step back in time with Independence Seaport Museum and Fort Mifflin as we present The British Mistake. The British Mistake explores an overlooked but vivid chapter of the British poor handling of the early years of the Revolutionary War.

Against all odds, Pennsylvania Navy, Fort Mercer, and Fort Mifflin sustained by Continental and Militia forces held back the British Navy from taking control of the Delaware River for an astonishing 90 days. Their unexpected success led to the destruction of the British ship-of-the-line HMS Augusta, and confounded the delivery of much needed winter supplies, threatening the occupation of the early United States capital, Philadelphia. The Battle of Fort Mifflin set in motion a series of events that turned the tides of war in America’s favor.

On display in the exhibit, visitors will see a rare fragment of an actual chevaux-de-frise, which was discovered in 2007 in the Delaware River, close to Fort Mifflin. This type of underwater defense blockade was designed to puncture British Navy hull as they attempted to reach Philadelphia. Also included will be an interactive fort experience, eyewitness accounts, and seldom seen artifacts from the Museum’s collections, Philadelphia History Museum and the Arader Galleries.

River Alive!

River Alive! is now open at Independence Seaport Museum.

Did you know that 15 million people drink water from the Delaware River? That’s 5% of the U.S. population!

Dive into all things water as you discover the wonders and challenges of our regional waterways. Want to know how the river connects the wilderness to the city? Play along on our high-tech River Continuum Wall for the answer. Ever seen a catfish up close? Now you can in our Fisharium. 

Swim on over to experience our newest exhibit and make sure to use #RiverAlive when sharing your visit on social media to connect with other visitors and the Museum. 

This exhibit is made possible by The William Penn Foundation.

O.T.W. - On The Water: The Schuylkill River

October 24, 2018 - January 5, 2020

This project by by James Lancel McElhinney began as a series of conversations between artists, rowers and historians, about the Schuylkill River as a nexus of American art, science, literature and commerce. Celebrating the spirit of exploration and expeditionary journal-painting, this exhibition also presents historic images in conversation with contemporary River Artists. Patrick Connors, Tom Judd, Deirdre Murphy, Stacy Levy, Jacob Rivkin and Joseph Sweeney. Join McElhinney in welcoming us to rediscover Philadelphia’s Hidden River, perhaps with a sketchbook in hand, to discover its wonders anew.

To learn more about the artist, visit his website.

Keep up with the project by tuning in to the podcast, On The Water, for interviews between McElhinney and other artists here.

Patriots & Pirates

Discover the city of Philadelphia’s connection to the founding of the United States Navy. The permanent exhibition features curated objects never  or rarely  seen by the public, highlighting the little-told story of America’s conflict with pirates. At the center of Patriots & Pirates  is a full-size waterline model of Diligence of 1797. Climb aboard Schooner  Diligence, a stationary 102-foot vessel with masts soaring above a 62-foot deck, constructed by staff and volunteers from  Workshop on the Watera traditional boat shop located inside the Museum. Patriots & Pirates is a unique exhibition developed by Chief Curator Craig Bruns.

Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River

Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River features recently uncovered artifacts from the Museum's collection, gripping first-person accounts and interactive elements, providing visitors with opportunities for discovery and communication. Using four key moments in Philadelphia's history representing the themes of Enslavement, Emancipation, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights, Tides of Freedom urges visitors both to bear witness to a story central to Philadelphia and American history, and to think about the meaning of "freedom" both historically and in today's world. 

World War I: USS Olympia

Though most famous as Commodore Dewey's flagship in the Spanish-American War, Cruiser Olympia served military and humanitarian roles in the U.S. Navy into the 1920s. Explore Cruiser Olympia's contributions in four chapters in World War I: USS Olympia, a semi-permanent exhibit at Independence Seaport Museum. The exhibit features rare historical mementos from several of Olympia's crewmembers, highlighting their experiences and reactions to the war including photographs, an engraved trombone, a diary, and a single dried flower from the solemn transport of the Unknown Soldier home to America in 1921.