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Army hopes to break ground in 2014 on its national museum at Fort Belvoir
An artist's rendering shows what is planned for the National Museum of the United States Army, to be built on 41 acres at Fort Belvoir.
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By RUSTY DENNEN
Within the next four years, Northern Virginia's second world-class military museum will rise from a 41-acre site at Fort Belvoir.
Assuming the fundraising goes as planned, the National Museum of the United States Army will join the National Museum of the Marine Corps, about 20 miles to the south off Interstate 95. It opened in November 2006.
Dave Fabian, a retired Army colonel and spokesman for the Army museum, says the Army Historical Foundation has raised about $65 million of the approximately $155 million needed to complete the project.
"So we're almost halfway there, and we've got some very good prospects" for additional donations by year's end, Fabian said Tuesday.
The fundraising campaign began in 2003 and was delayed by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. That shifted substantial growth to Fort Belvoir in southern Fairfax County.
Another factor was site selection. Two sites were considered before the current parcel along Fairfax County Parkway was chosen.
Fabian said the site will be dedicated next spring, with a groundbreaking planned in 2014. The Army Corps of Engineers is the builder.
Fabian says the museum could open in time for the Army's 241st birthday in June 2016, and possibly earlier. The Army was established June 14, 1775.
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, a global architectural firm, is doing the design work, which Fabian said is nearly complete.
Meanwhile, the museum's exhibit-design team is ready to turn over most of its plans to fabricators, Fabian said.
Christopher Chadbourne & Associates of Boston, which designed exhibits for the Marine Corps museum, was initially selected to handle the planning, design, and fabrication of the museum's galleries and exhibits. Another company, Kansas City-based Eisterhold Associates, has taken over that task.
Visitors will pass through three galleries in the main museum building, which will encompass about 175,000 square feet. (The Marine museum's main building is about 118,000 square feet.)
The Fighting for the Nation gallery, Fabian said, "will be a complete historical chronology of the Army, from the Revolutionary War forward."
The Soldiers' Stories gallery at the entrance, "will set the theme and tone, with individual stories from every era since 1775."
The National Museum of the U.S. Army is not yet built, but it has already set up a way to honor soldiers past and present, through its Registry of the American Soldier. There's no fee for submitting a soldier's name or photo to the registry. For more information, or to register or donate to the museum, visit: usarmyregistry.org /home.aspx.