Nearly 250 years after its founding, the Army is finally getting its own museum. Opening June 4, 2020, the National Museum of the United States Army will be located in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just outside Washington, and, through artifacts, documents and images, will tell the story of our country’s oldest military branch.
It’s meant to “serve as a home for our soldiers and veterans,” says museum director Tammy Call, and to “tell the Army’s history through [individual soldiers’] eyes and voices.”
The 185,000-square-foot institution will have three main sections. Soldiers’ Stories Gallery will tell the personal accounts of those who served throughout the Army’s history. Army and Society Gallery will track the relationship between the Army and civilian life. Fighting for the Nation Galleries will explain the history of the Army and how it grew into one of the most advanced fighting forces in the world.
It will also exhibit several “macro artifacts” — including tanks so large and heavy they had to be moved to their display areas before the museum’s walls were constructed — as well as a theater, spaces for temporary installations and events, a café, interactive exhibits, an outdoor amphitheater and a Medal of Honor Garden.
In support of the museum’s theme, Service and Sacrifice, the Army Historical Foundation created a registry to recognize and honor the active-duty soldiers, veterans, civilians and animals who worked with or for the Army; it will be on display in the museum and online.
Personalized bricks to honor soldiers, units, families and civilians will be installed on the museum’s grounds. The first group of bricks will be placed on the Path of Remembrance, which leads visitors to the building’s entrance.
After the Army Historical Foundation led initial fundraising efforts, construction began in 2017. The nonprofit has raised $177 million to date but needs to bring in $200 million to finish the project. The sale of items such as commemorative bricks and tribute plaques will help the foundation reach its goal.
Free tickets will be available through a timed system (further details will be released in the spring of 2020). Those who don’t drive can reach the museum by Washington’s Metro system and a dedicated bus service.
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This article was written by Aaron Kassraie for AARP.