Officials, soldiers celebrate reopening of Army Women’s Museum with ceremony
FORT LEE — After more than a year of renovations, the United States Army Women’s Museum at Fort Lee has officially been reopened so military members and civilians can celebrate and honor the contributions of women in the armed forces.
“This is an exciting milestone in the history of the Army,” said Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, at the reopening ceremony on Friday. “We can again celebrate and honor the women of the Army who have contributed so much.”
Family and friends of the Fort Lee community gathered at the museum on Friday to mark the museum’s $3 million expansion, which has more than doubled its exhibition space, from 5,000 sq. ft. to 11,000 sq. ft.
In addition to having more space, the upgraded museum has a completely new gallery and updated exhibits such as “Origins of Service (1775-1918)”, “World War II (1942-1946)”, “Permanent Presence (1948-1978)”, “Be All You Can Be (1978-2001″), and “21st Century (2001-Present)”.
“We felt as a staff the expansion was necessary so the museum could remain updated and relevant,” said Dr. Francoise B. Bonnell, the director of the museum.
Also opening is another new exhibit titled “The Voices Project”, which features contributions from women who are active military duty.
Bonnell said the museum staff started talking about possible upgrades to the facility about four years ago, realizing that over a decade of armed conflict in the War on Terror had elapsed since the exhibits had been updated.
During the ceremony, historical interpreters representing military women from different periods throughout U.S history were standing behind the podium.
Many family members of former military women who donated artifacts to the museum were also in attendance.
The original Army Women’s Museum was opened in 1955 at Fort McClellan, AL, as the Women’s Army Corps Museum. The museum was moved to Fort Lee in 2001, after Fort McClellan was closed in 1999. Fort Lee was seen as an appropriate new home for the museum, given that it was the first training center for the Women’s Army Corps from 1948-1954.
“This museum is one-of-a-kind,” said Fort Lee Commander Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg. “No other service has this, and as far as we know, no other military in the world has this.”
The museum has approximately 50,000 visitors each year, including numerous school and educational groups who take field trips there.