32. National Museum of the United States Army, Fort Belvoir, VA Undisclosed number in collection, 100+ display. Opens in 2019

National Museum of the United States Army Exterior
National Museum of the United States Army Case


The National Museum of the United States Army (NMUSA) will be the capstone museum of the Army Museum Enterprise (AME), formerly known as the Army Museum System (AMS). It is sited on 83 acres on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, 20 miles south of the Washington Mall. The AME began with the opening of the West Point Museum in 1854, and currently has fifty-seven museums with an additional forty-eight designed museum activities in the Army Reserve National Guard (ARNG). The Army Historical Collection contains over 600,000 cataloged items.

Each museum specializes in some aspect of Army operations and its storied history, and most feature arms as part of their collections, ranging from individual weapons to armored vehicles. The NMUSA will not specialize in small arms per se. That already happens at the Army’s West Point Museum, Rock Island Arsenal Museum and Virginia Military Academy. Historic firearms will be displayed throughout the museum’s Fighting for the Nation Gallery. It will be in the context of its seven major galleries that span operations from the American Revolution through today’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With good curation, this is a unique chance to witness firearms and ammunition displayed together, something that no firearms museum has yet done effectively. For some reason, the ‘hardware and software’ of weaponry are considered independently: what use is a bow without an arrow? With the U.S. Army Ordnance Training and Heritage Center in transition, America does not currently have an extensive ammunition collection on public display.

Currently, the public face of NMUSA is its website, which includes plans and videos of what it will be like when opened. The Museum Support Center (MSC) maintains and stores the collections. One is a mile distant from the NMUSA, the other in Anniston, Alabama. Non-military personnel can visit the MSC, with a valid purpose.