National Museum of the U.S. Army ramps up activities, new construction


Winter view of the National Museum of the U.S. Army

Update: In accordance with updated DOD guidance, the National Museum of the U.S. Army has made masks optional at the facility, effective March 3, 2022. This decision is based on current CDC COVID-19 Community Levels for Fairfax County/Fort Belvoir, so it is subject to change.  

The National Museum of the U.S. Army, located just off the Fairfax County Parkway at Fort Belvoir, may have had an unconventional debut thanks to COVID-19, but over the past several months, the museum has been gradually starting up services and amenities that were temporarily put on hold, and has kicked off a new construction project.

On Saturday, March 5, the museum will officially open Fort Discover, an exploration area designed for visitors ages eight and younger. The indoor play space — which remained closed until now due to health precautions — will enable children to use imaginative play to climb an Army tower, drive a Jeep and serve up chow, among other features, as well as play age-appropriate interactive games to learn about Army innovations from past to present. Fort Discover is just one part of the museum’s Experiential Learning Center (ELC), which provides interactive learning for all ages and which also will reopen March 5, following a brief closure for maintenance.

Army tower at Fort Discover (Credit: Army Historical Foundation)

The museum also is beefing up its calendar of events and activities, to include both on-site and virtual opportunities. One of the special events this year will be a Civil War Symposium from April 8-9, which will feature talks by acclaimed historians, an evening reception and a historian-led tour of a local Civil War battlefield.

Later this year, a special traveling exhibit on Bob Hope will arrive at the museum and feature multimedia elements that tell the story of the comedian’s special place in military history.

For those who want a guided tour of the museum’s exhibits, docent-led tours were recently launched daily at 10:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m., subject to docent availability. Visitors can sign up for tours at the Welcome Desk upon their arrival. Large-group tours for groups of 10 or more people can be arranged in advance by obtaining free tickets through the Army Historical Foundation. Private events at the museum are being booked as far out as 2025.

Outside of the physical museum, the Army Historical Foundation recently began construction of the Warriors' Field and Plaza. The plaza will be a designed space lined with trees and benches, where visitors can rest, reflect and enjoy the scenery of the museum’s 84-acre grounds. Three stone fragments from the Pentagon will be part of a memorial on the plaza to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. The plaza’s south walk will be a paved path lined by approximately 5,000 commemorative bricks listing the names of Soldiers, Army families and museum supporters.

The plaza itself will lead to Warriors' Field, where large-scale events will take place, including vehicle demonstrations, military events and musical performances.

As a federal and Department of Defense facility, the museum still presently requires masks or face coverings for visitors ages two and older. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the museum provides free, timed-entry tickets for individuals — currently through April 2022 — via its website.

With thanks to the Army Historical Foundation for providing museum updates.

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