“To provide for the collection and preservation of such flags, standards, and colours [sic] as shall have been or may hereafter be taken by the land and naval forces of the United States.”
In 1814, with the War of Independence still fresh in the minds of Americans and with the War of 1812 still being waged, Congress enacted legislation directing the Secretary of War, the precursor of today’s Secretary of Defense, to gather symbols of combat from the young nation’s military struggles. The British invasion of Washington, and the subsequent burning of the White House and many other federal buildings would occur just four months later. Such was the start, some 200 years ago of what is now the National Museum of the United States Army.
As the Army’s national landmark, the National Army Museum is an enduring effort to tell the Army’s story and honor the accomplishments, sacrifices and commitment of American Soldiers.
The Museum is the first comprehensive and truly national museum to capture, display and interpret over 240 years of Army history. The Museum brings to life that history in times of war and peace as told through the eyes of Soldiers.
The Museum also offers educational experiences illustrating the Army’s role in building and defending our nation, as well as Army humanitarian missions and technological and medical breakthroughs built on Army ingenuity.
The construction and maintenance of a national museum of this scale was and is a massive undertaking. The Museum is a joint effort between the U. S. Army and the non-profit Army Historical Foundation. The U.S. Army designated the Army Historical Foundation as the official fundraiser to support the building’s construction on federal land—an 84-acre site at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
A combination of Foundation and Museum contracts brought the Museum to life. Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP designed the building and Clark Construction Group, LLC began construction of the 185,000 square-foot facility in 2017. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coordinated site preparation, constructing the roads, and installing utilities.
Exhibit designers Christopher Chadbourne & Associates and Eisterhold Associates Inc. created the Museum’s storyline and exhibit design. Design and Production, Inc. fabricated and installed the gallery exhibits. The Scenic Route, Inc. designed, fabricated, and installed the Experiential Learning Center, the Army Theater and the Medal of Honor Experience. In total, over 30 different organizations brought their expertise to this important project.
While a joint construction effort, the U.S. Army now owns and operates the Museum. The Foundation will continue its fundraising role in support of Museum programs and will manage all retail, catering and special events services.