Interested in doing more than just reading about life in the U.S. Navy's first six frigates? A new exhibit at the USS Constitution Museum, located at Boston Harbor in Charlestown, Massachusetts, gives visitors the chance to experience what it was like to serve on board "Old Ironsides." All Hands on Deck: A Sailor's Life in 1812 is a hands-on, minds-on exhibit in which families can scrub the deck, swing in a hammock, fire a cannon, and furl a sail. The culmination of eight years of research into the lives and experiences of the men who served in the Constitution during the time she earned her famous nickname, the exhibit is a national model of family learning techniques at a history museum.
The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Active-duty Navy Sailors provide guided tours of Old Ironsides, which offer visitors a sense of the ship's size and scale and a brief overview of her history. Yet they see a vessel lacking any evidence of the teeming humanity that once lived and worked on board.