$300M National Museum of the United States Army to Open at Fort Belvoir

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor After almost 200 years of preparation and delays, Virginia’s Fort Belvoir, one of the country’s most prominent defense installations, will become home to a $300 million, 175,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art museum built to honor America’s soldiers and tell [...]

After almost 200 years of preparation and delays, Virginia’s Fort Belvoir, one of the country’s most prominent defense installations, will become home to a $300 million, 175,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art museum built to honor America’s soldiers and tell the story of the U.S. Army. The museum will be the Army’s national landmark and is scheduled to open in June 2015.

The National Museum of the United States Army will be located near the intersection of the Fairfax County Parkway and Kingman Road, about two miles from Interstate 95, just 30 minutes south of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Fort Belvoir’s close proximity to Mount Vernon, the home of Gen. George Washington, the Army’s first Commander-in-Chief, makes it a fitting location.

The museum has been in the works since 1814, when Congress ordered the Army to start collecting artifacts from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, but actual plans started to take shape in 2001. Fort Belvoir was selected out of three possible locations. The other two were Fort Meade in Maryland and the Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania.

The Army provided about $100 million and the 41-acre site at Fort Belvoir, with patrons needing to raise the remaining $200 million. Sponsors have $63 million so far. Fairfax County has donated about $1 million in the last few years.

The museum’s main building will be be approximately 175,000 square feet. A park with memorial garden and parade ground will be situated outside the facility. The museum will host ceremonies, reenactments, lectures and educational programs. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the internationally renowned architectural firm, will design the museum, while Christopher Chadbourne & Associates of Boston will oversee the planning, design and fabrication of its galleries and exhibits.

The museum is expected to attract as many as one million visitors a year and provide important economic growth for Fairfax County. It will be free and open to the public, without the approval and security measures necessary to enter the rest of the fort.