The National Museum of the United States Army is rapidly taking shape at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Since ground was broken in 2016, Museum construction has charged ahead at a quick clip — now over 90% complete and set to open in 2020.
“The urgency to build a Museum that honors those who have served in the U.S. Army, and the generations who will serve in years to come, has kept us focused on completing this historic project,” said Lieutenant General Roger Schultz (USA-Ret.), President of the Army Historical Foundation (AHF), the Army’s official fundraising partner for the campaign to build the Museum. “With construction nearing completion, the reality of the project is really hitting home for all of us. Excitement is building and will only grow as the galleries and exhibits really take shape.”
The Museum is being constructed on 84 acres of publicly accessible land at Fort Belvoir, less than 30 minutes south of Washington, D.C. Its location allows for easy travel times from a number of major airports for those travelling from farther afield. The building will be approximately 185,000 square feet and display Army artifacts, documents, images, and artwork. The vast majority of these rare and priceless selections have never been seen by the American people.
“Because of the Museum’s close proximity to the nation’s capital— and just ten miles from George Washington’s Mount Vernon— we will be offering customized itineraries to make touring the area an easy day trip for families,” noted Jamie Hubans, AHF’s Director of Museum Operations. “With so much to see in the area, it will be a great destination for families of all interests and age groups.”
Although located on Fort Belvoir, the Museum entrance will be at a publicly accessible gate, making entrance to the Museum quick and easy for visitors. The Museum campus offers ample free parking and admission to the Museum, which will be open seven days a week and is also free. The Museum’s cafe will offer local and healthy gourmet food. Catering services and accommodations for groups will be personalized to meet individual needs and budgets.
Once construction of the physical space is complete, the U.S. Army will transform the building into a National Museum fit with the latest advances in museum technology and exhibitry. Even now, with the building fully enclosed, the Museum’s notable interior design features are also taking shape. These elements include the Army Theater, with its 306-degree structure that will provide Museum visitors with a multi-dimensional sensory experience; the Experiential Learning Center (ELC), a unique interactive resource center that includes GSTEM educational programs and simulated rescue mission activities to challenge visitors; and the Fighting for the Nation Galleries which chronicle Army history spanning the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts.
A cutting edge simulation gallery will transport visitors into Army experiences through the power of virtual reality, motion platforms, and state-of-the-art systems. These simulators will attract both the young and the young-at-heart by offering a like-life immersion into the Soldier experience.
The Army and Society Gallery, which will explore the many ways the relationship among the Army, government, and the American people has shaped the nation’s history, will be a unique feature of the Museum. As no other known American military museum hosts a gallery that addresses this important symbiotic relationship between the Army and American society, this gallery will be a standout attraction at the Museum. A Sikorsky R-4b helicopter and the only existing reproduction of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s 1908 Wright Flyer previously on display at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum, will be featured, reminding visitors that many major advancements in air travel started with the Army.
“The Museum will be a major tourist destination for veterans and their families, currently serving Soldiers, school groups, and the general public,” said General Gordon R. Sullivan (USA-Ret.), AHF’s Chairman. “As the capstone of the Army Museum Enterprise, it will provide the only comprehensive history from the founding of the United States to the present.”
The Foundation has received more than 800,000 private donations, contributing more than $164 million toward the $200 million needed for construction. Individuals, units and veterans’ groups can also support the project by ordering personalized commemorative bricks, unit markers and memorial benches; and by sponsoring the Museum’s Veterans’ Hall. For more information visit armyhistory.org