National Infantry Museum
|Location||1775 Legacy Way, Columbus, Georgia 31903, United States|
|Visitors||300,000+ per year|
The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center is a museum located in Columbus, Georgia, just outside the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning. The 190,000-square-foot museum opened in June 2009.
The museum chronicles the history of the United States Army infantryman from the American Revolution to Afghanistan. It exhibits artifacts from all eras of American history and contains interactive multimedia exhibits. The National Infantry Museum emphasizes the values that are meant to define the infantryman, as well as the nation: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
In addition to galleries, the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center also consists of:
- Giant Screen Theater
- DownRange Combat Simulators
- The Fife and Drum Restaurant
- The Soldier Store Gift Shop
- Heritage Walk
- Memorial Walk of Honor
- Vietnam Memorial Plaza
- Global War on Terrorism Memorial (Fall 2017)
- World War II Company Street.
Until April 2008, the museum was housed in an old Army hospital on Fort Benning. Space and conditions for the museum’s collection was inadequate. In 1998, the 501(c)(3) National Infantry Foundation  was formed to plan, raise funds for and to operate a new museum. The National Infantry Museum Foundation has since formed a formal partnership with the Army to manage the facility and its contents. The National Infantry Museum does not receive federal, state or city funding. Through its lease agreement with the National Infantry Museum Foundation, the Army reimburses the foundation for approximately 30 percent of the museum’s annual operating expenses. There is no admission fee. The museum relies on donations, memberships and revenue-generating attractions such as the Giant Screen Theater, combat simulators, Fife and Drum Restaurant, Soldier Store and event rentals to cover operating expenses.
The museum is located on a 155-acre campus adjacent to Fort Benning. The campus includes Inouye Field and a 2,100-seat stadium which hosts graduations of Army trainees most Thursdays and Fridays. The graduations are open to the public.
World War II Company Street is a collection of seven buildings constructed at Fort Benning during the ramp-up to World War II. They have been furnished as they were in the 1940s and are open for tours most days. The buildings include a chapel, barracks, mess hall, orderly room, supply room, and the sleeping quarters and headquarters building used by Gen. George Patton prior to his deployment to North Africa in 1942.
The Vietnam Memorial Plaza contains a ¾-scale replica of the Vietnam Wall on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
The Global War on Terrorism Memorial(under construction Summer 2017) includes the names of 6,800 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines killed in service since 9/11. A 13-foot steel beam pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center and donated to the museum by New York City firefighters is featured in the design of the memorial.
The museum received a Thea Award for excellence from the Themed Entertainment Association in 2011, USA Today’s 2016 Readers’ Choice Award for Best Free Museum, and TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame recognition for continued excellence.
Notes and references
- Putnam, Walter, "Powell salutes soldiers at museum opening", Military Times (Associated Press), August 2, 2009.
- Williams, Chuck, "Colin Powell speaks at Infantry Museum grand opening", Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, June 20, 2009.
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