2. Springfield Armory Museum, Springfield, MA ±11,000 guns, ±1,500 on display (14%). Established in 1982

Springfield Armory Museum Exterior
Springfield Armory Museum Case


Beginning in 1777, the Springfield Arsenal stored new munitions as well as captured weapons. It opened as a manufacturing Armory in 1794. The museum was formalized in 1871 as a firearm ‘reference library’ for weapon designers at its armory. Today, the collection includes samples made at the Armory, captured weapons from every US war up to WWII, and weapons designed by both domestic and foreign competitors, acquired or donated for study purposes.

The Museum’s displays are organized into three areas. The Industry Gallery gives the manufacturing and contextual history of the Arsenal, the Weapons Gallery displays weapons arranged in fifty cases and the Special Exhibits Gallery shows rotating exhibitions.

The Weapons Gallery is the largest of the three areas. Its central display is the ‘Organ of Muskets’ a bronze storage unit holding 1,000 M1861 muskets. After an introduction to firearm evolution, the cases are generally arranged by wars and specific arms developed at the Armory. It has low numbered examples of classic firearms, and includes displays of the Springfield Model 1816, M1855, Erskine Allin’s M1873 Trapdoor, M1903 Springfield, M1 Garand, M14, and the M60 machine gun, aka “The Pig”. An excellent selection of both Allied and Axis weapons of the 20th century are shown, including a glass-walled display of twelve static machineguns.

A unique strength of the collection are the many prototypes made of the weapons designed at the Armory, as well as cutaway ‘skeletonized’ weapons used for explaining their operation. While not open to the general public, the Springfield Armory has an unparalleled collection of military small arms and prototypes in storage. It also includes cartridges and displays as well as the tools and gages used in munition manufacturing.

The 1980’s galleries are in need of a curatorial and infrastructural redesign: the cases are neon lit with inflexible fittings, which discourage changes.

MacKenzie, Alex, Springfield Armory, Charleston, (2015)
Visit the Springfield Armory Cyber Museum on line at http://ww3.rediscov.com/spring/spring.htm