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The USS Constitution Museum is celebrating the idea that big things can come in small packages — even ships.

The Charlestown museum is hosting the Masters of Miniature: Model Ship Show, which runs through Feb. 29 and includes about 40 handcrafted model ships created by 19 builders from the USS Constitution Model Shipwright Guild.

While many of the modelers opt to have their ships judged, others simply want to show off their handiwork. The guild, which consists of about 80 members, recruits three judges who are given seminars and classes to teach them how to judge model ships.

Last year, the show drew 20,000 visitors during a seven-week period, said Harrie Slootbeek, the museum’s collections and exhibits manager.


“They love [the model ship show]. A lot of people walk in and are very pleasantly surprised to see the model show,” Slootbeek said.

Visitors to the exhibit will be able to vote for their favorite vessel and participate in other activities including workshops and scavenger hunts.

Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

The museum will also hold a Lego Maritime Festival over school vacation week, Feb. 15-23, in which families and other participants are invited to build their own ships using Lego and Duplo bricks, according to Slootbeek .

In 2004, Slootbeek said, the guild began a “best of the best” competition, held every two years, which invites previous winners to resubmit their models for new judging.

“I remember when I first started working on this show about 15 years ago, we would typically have about 30 to 35 ship models,” said Slootbeek. This year the museum has about 40 ship models, but the event typically features 65 to 70 models.

The USS Constitution Museum itself welcomes approximately 300,000 visitors annually with a hands-on and educational experience for all ages, according to its website.

The museum, which opened to the public in 1976, is a non-profit and non-government funded complement to the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat.


Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

Meghan Sorensen can be reached at Meghan.Sorensen@globe.com