The opening of the newly constructed National Museum of the United States Army was originally scheduled for summer 2020. The coronavirus pandemic put a delay in those plans, but now there's a definite opening date and it couldn't be more appropriate: Veterans Day, November 11.
A joint effort by the U.S. Army and the nonprofit Army Historical Foundation, the glass-and-steel facility is in a publicly accessible area of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, about 25 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.
In a press release, the U.S. Army describes the museum as the "first and only" institution of its kind to "tell the entire history" of the nation's oldest military branch.
That story is told using hundreds of historical artifacts, photos, and videos across 11 galleries covering the Army's role in conflicts and peacetime from the colonial era to the present.
Along with the expected displays of uniforms and weaponry, such as Civil War cannons and D-Day landing craft, the museum contains pylons with images and biographies of ordinary soldiers, and makes room for contemplative spaces such as a Medal of Honor Garden, veterans' memorials, and a large wall (pictured above) with every campaign in Army history etched in black granite.
There's also a theater with a nearly wraparound screen showing a cinematic overview of the Army's impact through the years, while the Experiential Learning Center features hands-on activities relating to geography, science, technology, engineering, and math.
For a preview of the entire museum, watch the 3-minute video walk-through below.
In keeping with what has become standard operating procedure at museums during the pandemic, the Army facility has established enhanced health and safety measures to protect visitors from Covid-19.
Although admission is free, you must reserve a timed ticket in advance so that the museum can control capacity. Other requirements include facial coverings and social distancing. Not all interactive elements will be enabled, and you'll be given a stylus pen to use on touchscreens.
Visit thenmusa.org for more information or to reserve tickets.