Nearly 250 years after its founding, the Army finally opened the doors to its own museum on Veterans Day 2020. The National Museum of the United States Army, located in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just outside Washington, tells the story of our country’s oldest military branch, through artifacts, documents and images.
It's meant to “serve as a home for our soldiers and veterans,” said museum director Tammy Call, and to “tell the Army's history through [individual soldiers'] eyes and voices."
The 185,000-square-foot institution has three main sections.
- The Soldiers’ Stories Gallery tells the personal accounts of those who served throughout the Army's history.
- The Army and Society Gallery tracks the relationship between the Army and civilian life.
- The Fighting for the Nation Galleries explain the history of the Army and how it grew into one of the most advanced fighting forces in the world.
It also features 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.
Museums Dedicated to Other Branches
- National Museum of the Marine Corps
Triangle, Virginia (outside Quantico)
- National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Riverside, Ohio (outside Dayton)
- National Museum of the U.S. Navy
- U.S. Coast Guard Academy Museum
New London, Connecticut
Planning for a National Coast Guard Museum began in 2017.
In support of the museum's theme of “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 is on display in the museum and online.
Personalized bricks that honor soldiers, units, families and civilians can also be found on the museum's grounds. The first group of bricks were placed on the Path of Remembrance, which leads visitors to the building's entrance.
The Army Historical Foundation leads fundraising efforts for the museum, which is supported by the sale of items such as commemorative bricks and tribute plaques.
Free tickets are available through the museum’s website and a timed ticketing system, which manages capacity.
Editor's note: This story, originally published Oct. 15, 2019, has been updated to reflect new information.