National Museum United States Army

The National Museum of the United States Army celebrates over 245 years of Army history and honors our nation’s Soldiers—past, present and future—the regular Army, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.  The objectives of the museum are to honor America’s soldiers, preserve Army history, and educate the public about the Army’s role in American history.

This new museum opened November 11, 2020 and closed soon after on Dec. 14, 2020. We were able to schedule a visit the day after Thanksgiving. I’m so glad we did. At that time, I don’t think anyone thought the museum would close it’s doors and not reopen till June 14, 2021.

From November 11 until December 14, 2020, the museum had been open with restrictions meant to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Visitors had been able to reserve free tickets online to visit the museum at a specific time.

This beautiful museum is definitely a must-see. So much work has gone into all of the exhibits. Several visits will be needed to really take in all this museum has to offer.

Location: 1775 Liberty Drive, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060 (Do not go through Fort Belvoir gates — enter from Fairfax County Parkway and Liberty Drive.)

~ 41 miles from Fredericksburg/~56 min.

Hours: Daily 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, except Dec. 25

Cost:

  • Parking is FREE
  • FREE timed-entry admission tickets are required. Tickets are limited to 5 tickets per request. Walk-up tickets are not available.
  • Group tickets are not available at this time.
  • Click HERE to reserve tickets.

Tips:

  • Security screening. Limit essential items to a standard backpack size.
  • Masks are required for anyone over 2 regardless of vaccination status.
  • Download a museum guide HERE.
  • Guided tours are not available, but docents are available in the galleries to answer questions.

Audio Tours:

  • FREE audio tours are available for checkout at the Welcome Desk with a government issued ID.
  • Audio tour equipment is sanitized.
  • Visitors are encouraged to bring their own headphones for use with the audio tour, which has a standard headphone jack.
  • Disposable headphones are also available.
  • Are you interested? Click HERE to see a description of the THREE audio tours available.

Army Theater:

  • Immersive introduction to the U.S. Army and to the Museum
  • Does not require a ticket
  • Shown multiple times every hour
  • Vibrating seats and floor accompany the lights, sounds and action on-screen

Virtual Reality and Motion Theater Experiences

  • Tickets can be purchased on site or online.
  • Prices range from $8-$25
  • Click HERE to learn more about the three experiences offered.

Website: thenmusa.org

“I ONLY REGRET THAT I HAVE BUT ONE LIFE TO GIVE FOR MY COUNTRY.“

Capt. Nathan Hale

The museum, spanning more than 240 years of history, includes galleries covering periods of history from before the Revolutionary War to the present. 

Number 5 (picture 2) was excited to see a display about Henry Knox and the expedition he led to transport heavy weaponry that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga to the Continental Army camps outside Boston, Massachusetts during the winter of 1775–1776. She had just been studying about this event in her history class.

Throughout the museum you will notice how realistic the human figures are. Each was modeled on an actual active-duty service member. 

This picture is of the Cobra King, a 38-ton Sherman tank that first broke through enemy lines in World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING CENTER

The Experiential Learning Center (ELC) offers a unique and immersive learning space for all visitors to develop skills and have fun with Geography, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

There are four areas in this center:

  • Assembly Area–Here visitors are introduced to members of the diverse Army family.
  • Training Center–This interactive environment contains five stations: unmanned aerial vehicle operations, geospatial intelligence, aviation cargo drops, bridge building and medical support.
  • Fort Discover— Visitors 8 years old and younger can use imaginative play to climb an Army tower, radio friends, drop cargo supplies, launch a space rocket, drive a jeep, serve up chow in the dining facility and check out different uniforms with Camo Camera! This area is closed.
  • Learning Lab–Visitors apply skills learned in the training center to work as team to respond to a humanitarian crisis.

This training center was a favorite for my kids. We had the area to ourselves, so we were able to try out all the activities. The kids had a great time and learned a lot. They did not want to leave.

  • Picture 1: Numbers 4 and 6 loved this engineering station. They had to build and repair bridges to keep people and supplies moving safely across waterways.
  • Picture 2: My kids had a great time using their math skills to calculate the engine power needed for air cargo drops.
  • Picture 3: In this area they had to diagnose patients and fight diseases using medical tools and scientific reasoning.

Our Soldiers in Art:

This area is a temporary, rotating exhibit space. The Museum’s first exhibit, The Art of Soldiering, showcases highlights from the U.S. Army’s Art Collection. It visually depicts the experiences of the American Soldier from the Civil War to the present through art produced on the front lines.

I was surprised that Number 6 was so engrossed. He loves art and was moved by what he saw. We all learned a lot. For example, one piece of art, Dugout in the Snow, was drawn during the Italian campaign. The weather was so cold that the artist was forced to abandon his watercolors and work in ink because the watercolor paint froze prior to adhering to his paper.

“ONE THING I COULD NOT PORTRAY WITH PAINT WAS THE FEELING OF THE UNREALITY OF IT ALL.”

Spec. Ron Wilson

Before we left the museum, we headed to the third floor to see the Medal of Honor Garden. The outdoor garden identifies and honors Army recipients of the nation’s highest award for valor.  It overlooks the museum campus.

Some interesting artifacts that can be found in the museum:

●A sword used by 23-year-old Captain John Berry during Fort McHenry’s defense of Baltimore in September 1814. The battle inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

●The first Humvee vehicle.

●A Higgins Boat, one of six remaining landing crafts from D-Day in World War II.

●A watch recovered from the damaged Pentagon after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The time reads 9:51 a.m., minutes after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.

● Liberty Truck, a World War I vehicle used in a 1919 cross-country military convoy. The convoy’s success later encouraged President Dwight Eisenhower to support the first interstate highway system.


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