Visitors arriving at the Pier will be drawn to a grand entry with a dramatic plaza, a stylized recreation of USS Wolverine, a reflecting pool with an infinity edge, a pristinely restored WWII U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat fighter plane, and the latest interactive media and museum-quality displays.
Thousands of children, youth, and families will visit the Memorial each and every year. Our goal is to provide them with an immersive, audience-centric experience that will utilize the newest media technology to move and inspire the next generation of Chicagoland and our region's naval leaders. We aim to provide context to the American innovation and ingenuity it took to leverage Navy Pier in defense of our nation, and provide a window into a long-forgotten past of the Windy City’s brave response to a world at war.
The Main Attraction
Visually arresting from miles away, the USS Wolverine will captivate millions, including veterans, families, and the next generation of Chicago’s active-duty naval leaders.
With both internal and external spaces, the structure will include a formal Discovery Center with a state-of-the-art theater and museum exhibition space that can be converted for special events and ceremonies. Top-side of the structure will be a “flight deck” that will offer magnificent vistas of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier's Ferris wheel, and downtown Chicago.
History Here & Now
Restoration of FM-2
Wildcat and exhibit
By offering a unique glimpse into the historic restoration and display of a fabled local fixture, visitors will be treated to a one-of-a-kind opportunity to connect with the rich military history right in their backyard.
With the restoration and display of an FM-2 Wildcat, we can provide a deeper understanding of the historical importance of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier qualification training program at Navy Pier, which greatly impacted the U.S. victory in the Pacific during WWII. Visitors can witness first-hand what the training process entailed, promoting interest and appreciation for service in the Navy.
A Place To Engage
indoor special events
and ceremonial space
To promote ongoing military history education that will engage a wide variety of audiences, the Chicago Navy Memorial at Navy Pier will offer a state-of-the-art multimedia venue space.
The Discovery Center will feature HD digital displays with surround sound, multi-format video players, and inputs for PowerPoint presentations.
This unique and engaging space will be a top destination for movie and documentary screenings, press events, and guest speaker presentations from around the region.
The Navy Memorial at Navy Pier will display Chicagoland’s storied past to life with high-quality, custom-built exhibition cases.
These cases will include scratch-resistant surfaces, museum-grade fabrics, internal panels, LED lighting, shelving, humidity control, security and alarms, and storage. Custom frameless all-glass museum displays will showcase, protect, and conserve some of our nation’s most valued naval service artifacts.
Pacific Theater in the Discovery Center
In recognition of the many servicemen who traveled from the shores of Lake Michigan to the waters of the South Pacific, visitors will be transported to another world as they enter the Pacific Theater; a state-of-the-art space that will offer a video introduction to the Chicago Navy Memorial at Navy Pier.
With the latest in audiovisual capabilities, this exclusive venue will offer an intimate setting for movie and documentary screenings and presentations, attracting visitors from around the world.
An elegant, simple, and re-imagined entryway will pay homage to the look of the original entrance to Navy Pier for the 6th War Loan Exhibition at Navy Pier, November 20 through December 16, 1944.
The gateway will serve to inspire the spirit of each visitor as they pass through the space, providing a glimpse into Navy Pier’s noble past.
Walkway and plaza
A stunning walkway and plaza of black granite chips and tinted cement will run the full length of the memorial structure, providing an opportunity for veterans and family members to reminisce on their time in service.
Visitors can peacefully contemplate the sacrifice of Chicago’s heroes along intricately etched maps that adorn the walkway path, elegantly punctuated by legacy trees, flag poles, decorative planters, and thoughtfully-located benches.
Etched glass panels
Laminated glass panels will immortalize prominent Chicago sea service veterans, many of whose wartime efforts were only matched by their boldness as business, civic, and public service leaders.
Additionally, the panels will also serve as an imaginative and artistic sound barrier, separating the plaza from the busy bus drop-off and pick-up area, setting the plaza apart as a space for peaceful reflection.
Flight deck super structure with replica fighter aircraft
Running the entire length and width of the USS Wolverine structure, the flight deck will be an exemplary outdoor setting that is sure to take its rightful place among Chicago’s most iconic architectural landmarks. Facsimiles of the USS Wolverine’s naval aircraft will adorn the flight deck.
In the shadow of Navy Pier and the Chicago skyline the memorial’s flight deck will draw in visitors from around the globe, and attract scores of private event interest to this unique space.
Chicago wall of stories
Family, friends, and colleagues of naval service veterans will have an opportunity to share and preserve the memory of a loved one’s naval service by sponsoring unique biographic commemorative plaques displayed at key locations throughout the memorial.
Visitors will be able to reflect on individual stories from real-life heroes, bringing the sacrifice and service to a personal level and making history come to life by preserving the memory of every name on the wall.