HERE THEY GROW AGAIN …
One of my favorite museums since 2006 has been the National Museum of the Marine Corps located just outside the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia. It’s a short ride down the interstate from the Washington DC area and the spire of the museum building is always beckoning to visit (you’ll be glad you did!)
On Friday 27 MAR 2015 despite the rainy weather, a celebratory ceremony took place both in and outside the spacious atrium marking the new expansion of the museum that will double the exhibit space – adding 120,000 square feet – and more. The new Timothy T. Day Overlook was also dedicated. Among the special guests and speaker on hand was the 35th Commandant of the US Marine Corps retired General James F. Amos USMC (Ret.)
Dumfries, Va. (March 27, 2015) – The first visitors of the day were beginning to file into the National Museum of the Marine Corps outside Quantico, Va. this morning, when an excavator sitting on the steep hill rising against the north wall of the museum rumbled to life and drove its bucket into the earth, officially breaking ground on a historic expansion of the nation’s home for Marine Corps history. The operator behind the controls of the excavator was himself a Marine who served during the 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War that are not yet represented in the museum’s galleries. Upon completion of the construction, the museum will have doubled in size to make room for a giant screen movie theater, expanded education suite, a Marine Sports Hall of Fame, Marine Corps Combat Art Gallery, and two additional galleries depicting the bravery and service of the men and women who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1976 though present day.
The award-winning museum, which opened in 2006 and completed its first additions in 2010, currently includes permanent galleries representing Marine Corps history from the Corps’ establishment in 1775, through the end of the Vietnam War. Construction of the 120,000 square feet of new physical space is expected to be finished in 2017. The first of the new artifacts will be installed beginning in 2016, and all new galleries and exhibits will be complete by 2020.
“The National Museum of the Marine Corps is a world-class institution that has been enjoyed by more than four million visitors from around the world. Yet, it remains incomplete until it tells the story of every man and woman who has earned the title, ‘Marine,” said Lt. Gen. Robert R. Blackman, Jr., president and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. “Marines, corporations, foundations and individual Americans have made this magnificent museum possible. And I have no doubt that we will see their continued support as we construct spaces to honor today’s generation of Marines.”
Nearly 200 guests attended the groundbreaking ceremony, including one Marine Corps veteran who helped make the expansion possible as the foundation’s largest individual donor. Timothy T. Day, founder of Bar-S Foods, donated more than $12 million toward construction of the new spaces. A portion of his gift also sponsored the Timothy T. Day Overlook in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, adjacent to the museum. The overlook was dedicated shortly after the groundbreaking ceremony, and will offer visitors a scenic vista along the park’s memorial lined paths.
A committee of senior advisors, including general officers and senior enlisted Marines, and a long list of subject matter experts representing veteran service organizations, education groups, Marine Corps family focus groups, and the Marine Corps’ Wounded Warrior Regiment, guided the planning of the expansion’s design and contents. The first artifacts to be added will be among the most dramatic. A World War II SBD Dauntless dive bomber will be hung from the museum’s soaring glass ceiling above the existing Tarawa display. A tableau featuring a Vietnam-era Sikorsky UH-340D helicopter will also be added. In 2017, a two-story, giant-screen theater with a 350-seat capacity will open and feature a spectacular film about the celebrated history of the Marine Corps with a focus on the modern day Marine.
The following year, a gallery depicting Marine Corps service in regional conflicts and in humanitarian relief missions after the Vietnam War, including those in Beirut, Grenada and the Persian Gulf, will open to visitors. The Global War on Terror gallery will open at the same time, telling the latest chapter of Marine Corps history following the attacks of September 11, 2001. These two galleries will feature an impressive collection of large artifacts, including an AAV7A1 amphibious vehicle, M198 howitzer, an M60A1 tank, MAT-V mine-resistant vehicle and Bell UH-1N Huey helicopter. Some of the smaller, yet powerfully symbolic artifacts will include an oil-soaked Marine Corp flag from Desert Storm, election ballots from Iraq, gear worn by Women Marines whose critical role during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom marked historic firsts for the Marine Corps, and the rifle carried by Navy Cross recipient Sgt. Rafael Peralta.
“Today’s Marines have made the same indelible mark on the history of our Marine Corps, nation and world as every Marine who has served since 1775,” said Lt. Gen. Blackman. “They have earned their place in this extraordinary museum, and the ground we broke today is a symbol of our commitment – our mission will not be accomplished until this museum is complete.”
About the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation:
Dedicated to the preservation and promulgation of Marine Corps history, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation was established in 1979 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Foundation supports the historical programs of the Marine Corps in ways not possible through government funds. The Foundation provides grants and scholarships for research and the renovation, restoration, and commissioning of historical Marine Corps artifacts and landmarks. Securing the necessary funding for the complete construction of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center, located in Triangle, Virginia, is the Foundation’s current primary mission while continuing to provide program support for the Corps’ historical, museum, and educational activities. For more information, visit MarineHeritage.org.