Where’s the Military’s Museum?

Vietnam Wall Ralph Peters observes,

Today, the Newseum – a 250,000-square-foot homage to journalism that cost $450 million to build – opens on Pennsylvania Avenue, midway between the White House and the Capitol.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Other than the (symbolic?) fact that the building’s an architectural mishmash, it’s this: There’s no museum in the vicinity of the National Mall dedicated to our military.

My immediate reaction was, What the heck is he talking about? (Or words to that effect.) After all, the Mall is home to a massive World War Two Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and myriad statues and tributes to America’s fighting men. And Arlington National Cemetery and other memorials are within a short ride on the Metro.

It’s true, though, that there’s no single museum dedicated to the military. On the other hand, there’s a International Spy Museum, which like the Newseum is privately financed, which has plenty of references to military intelligence. And many of the Smithsonian Museums have tributes to the military and military men and women: The National Air and Space Museum and its Udvar-Hazy annex, the National Museum of American History, and the National Portrait Gallery come most readily to mind in that regard. DC is also home to the Navy Museum, although it’s way out at the Navy Yard.

Do we really need more than that?

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    I guess Ralphie is lamenting the lack of an equivalent to Britain’s Imperial War Museum or the French Musee de l’Armee in our capital city. The Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH is probably the best in the world for its collection of military aircraft, but it’s not in DC.

  2. Bithead says:

    Well, perhaps the Navy has the right idea, there.
    Thinking aloud…

    Why not put the Military museum in unused space at say, Ft Lee, (I think they’ve already got a substantial museum at Lee… Saw Patton’s jeep there, 30 some odd years ago) or perhaps at Meade?

    I have a deep and abiding respect for the Military, but the memorials on the mall are just that; memorials. More of emotion than nuts and bolts… The Nuts and Bolts view of military history requires something more in the way of space…and frankly a different ambiance than the mall can provide, I think.

    Let’s see, here…. from memory, there’s the Quartermaster Museum at Lee, Lee’s got the Army Women’s museum, too. There’s the Patton Museum of Cavalry & Armor at Knox, I think. 4ID has one at Hood…(Where else?) 82nd got one at Bragg, Benning has the National Infantry Museum.

    Just about every base has a military museum of some kind, and I’ve been at many. I imagine the other services similarly arranged. But perhaps a central location for such would be worthwhile.

    I very nearly suggested that such a place be run by the Smithsonian, but I think it more appropriate for vets of the various branches run the various divisions within the museum.

  3. B. Minich says:

    Hrmmmm . . . I’ve visited the monuments to the military several times. They are free, and the experience is powerful. I do not plan on visiting the Newseam. I think it is too expensive ($20!?! SERIOUSLY?!?! This is a town of free museums, I think the curators here are going to have a rude awakening.), and I doubt that for that $20 I am going to affected in anyway, or even learn that much.

  4. Jeff Quinton says:

    The new USMC museum is out at Quantico and there’s the smaller Navy museum at the Navy monument at the Archives Metro Stop. AF Museum is at Wright-Pat. There’s an Army Museum going in at Belvoir in the next 5-10 years I think.

  5. KJ says:

    Unfortunately there will likely never be a national style museum the likes of those found around the world.

    Ask an old soldier the meaning of “Soldiers and dogs keep off the grass.” It is the way so many in the US treat those that fought their wars and protected their freedoms.

  6. Triumph says:

    You forgot to mention that the Pentagon has a well-developed tour program and scores of exhibitions that anyone can visit for free.

    Also, the Marines have a museum in Triangle, VA just downstream from DC.

  7. John B. says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily object to a military museum. But does it have to be in Washington? Ever since the Vietnam Veterans memorial was built, we have had a succession of crybabies demanding memorials to their heroism and sacrifices. Ever time a new memorial is approved, a coterie of interest groups start rattling their cages to demand that it be redesigned to reflect their particular interests. As a Washingtonian, I’m getting a little tired of this.