The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum (PRNAM) has a decades-long history, yet at the same time, the Museum is starting afresh. It is no longer an official U.S. Navy museum following federal budget restructuring. The Museum is now a private, non-profit (501C(3)) organization working in conjunction with St Mary’s County. With the recently completed construction of a multi-million dollar capital project that transformed the Museum, it is now displaying the potential to become a premier cultural institution and economic driver for the County.
Enjoying a supportive community that recognizes the Museum as the link between the U.S. Navy’s missions at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River (Pax River) and the community defined by that mission, it sits in an enviable location with an inspiring story perfectly suited to the technological preoccupations of our era.
When compared to other aviation-focused museums, PRNAM is unique in terms of its collections and mission. Whereas most aviation museums focus on operational aircraft and exhibits, PRNAM focuses on the research, development, test and evaluation environment. Ideas and concepts that were developed and introduced to the Fleet form the basis of its interpretive program. PRNAM also displays concepts that never made it to the Fleet that makes the Museum’s collection all the more unique. Artifacts and simulators, films and books spanning the history of Naval Aviation topped off with a display of 22 one-of-a-kind aircraft that you can walk right up to make the Museum dynamic and memorable.
The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum will continue to be a highly valued community resource that provides both educational and tourism benefits to Southern Maryland while continuing to celebrate and preserve the past and future accomplishments acheived from the research, development, test and evaluation of naval aircraft.
Preserve significant artifacts of naval aviation research, development, test and evaluation history and technology
Educate the public about the historic and social significance of the work of the U.S. Navy that is uniquely carried out in St. Mary's County
Inspire and encourage excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and embrace its future promise as a pathway to advanced innovations and an improved quality of life.
Since its construction in the early 1940s, the Department of Defense and the United States Navy have focused on developing naval aviation research, development, testing and evaluation capabilities at NAS Pax River located in St. Mary's County, Maryland. The base has grown over time to Naval Air Systems Command, and over thirty other tenants, detachments and squadrons. Today, the base supports over 22,000 military, civilians, and defense contractors. It is the largest employer in St. Mary's County and prime catalyst for economic development. With over 200 high-tech aerospace and defense industry partners, the County has emerged as a world-class center for maritime aviation research, development, testing, evaluation, and acquisition with a bright future in the commercial development of unmanned and autonomous systems.
St. Mary's County is situated on a peninsula in Southern Maryland and has over 500 miles of shoreline on the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. The area combines access to high-technology jobs in a community that has a rich heritage and a myriad of outdoor sports and recreational opportunities. The County's location allows for easy access to major metropolitan areas while offering residents a high quality-of-life and affordable lifestyles.
Dramatic changes in the official status of the Museum have led to changes in the composition of the Museum's Board of Directors. In the last two years, new leadership and new members have been recruited to fill identified areas. The result is a new focus on strategic planning and fundraising.
As with any museum, volunteers serve a vital role: augmenting the staff, developing and maintaining exhibits and artifacts, and providing a memorable visit for our guests. PRNAM is no different. The Museum has more than 70 volunteers on its roster. Additionally, several active duty military commands regularly provide volunteers for specific events. Our docent corps assists with tours and provides a memorable experience to Museum visitors. Simulators are run solely by volunteers, approximately a third of which are high school students and another third are active duty military. All of the Museum's Board Members also serve as volunteers.
Inclusion of a visitor information center located in the new building gives the Museum a new and significant role. This tourist information center provides a variety of information provided through State and County travel publications and websites.