With much anticipation, the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum on Fort Bragg finally reopened with a Monday ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Four years of work is done,” said John Aarsen, museum director. ”The museum has always been open, and we serve the 82nd that is always on notice. We were open at reduced capacity but today allowed us to come back into our main building with these brand new exhibits to help tell the 82nd story.”
Under a big red tent, crowds of people sat during the ceremony as different guest speakers such as the 82nd Airborne Division’s Commanding General Maj. Gen. Michael Kurilla and the division’s Deputy Commanding General Brig. Gen. Oliver J. Kingsbury, took to the podium to talk about the museum.
This $2.8 million project has created a new space that consisted of removing two large concrete walls.
“We get about 79,000 visitors a year, so people come from all over the world to see the 82nd story, “ said Aarsen. “Not only do we have all the Soldiers that have been in the division, we have the American public, foreign visitors that come here as well because of it being such a gem. This is a great story and it’s a good museum to help tell it; these new exhibits help tell us in a modern open approach.”
After the ribbon cutting, individuals who attended the event were able to explore inside the museum and view an updated scene with old and new artifacts.
Many of the small artifacts in the museum are donated by the Soldiers and their Family members.
The larger artifacts such as a military Humvee, which can be found on display, come directly from the Army.
In addition, the gallery includes the first permanent exhibits on the Global War on Terrorism.
Even though the remodeling project is complete, there are still more projects that will be coming up in the future.
“We are already working on the next exhibits about the fighting in Syria and Iraq,” Aarsen said. “Being a part of the 82nd means there is history being made every day and every year. We have to keep up with it,” Aarsen said.
The 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum is the second oldest U.S. Army museum and was founded in 1945.