Military museum begins move
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Dozens of soldiers, airmen, retirees and spouses walk in to the Patriot Center each day to renew their military identification or seek other services.
One of the many updates at the Ike Skelton Training Site in recent years, the first building on the right past the guard shack was converted to the one-stop location containing the offices most visitors to the Missouri National Guard headquarters need.
By 2015, a museum should replace the maintenance bays on the other half of the building, once housing the mechanical school relocated to Fort Leonard Wood.
The Museum of Missouri Military History opened in April 1999 at the back of the Jefferson City base in a century-old, two-story building overlooking the Missouri River.
The upstairs office space is smothered by files and boxes and collections. And the downstairs exhibit space allows for only a minute part of the museum’s holdings to be on display.
Nevertheless, the museum sees about 3,000 visitors each year, especially the spring elementary groups headed to the Missouri Capitol.
The new location will offer separated office, work and storage spaces as well as nearly tripling the indoor exhibit space.
Plus, a large, paved area will nicely suit eventual macro-artifacts, such as helicopters, tanks or other large, historical machines.
After relocating closer to the entrance and adjacent to another visitor stop, Curator Charles Machon anticipates his visitor numbers will increase dramatically.
Deconstruction of the future museum space began recently. It will take some time for the old maintenance shell to transform into an environmentally controlled interior to safely hold the aging artifacts.
During the course of the move, the idea emerged of including the Spanish-American War statue, currently located at the Blue Star Memorial Park in the 2500 block of Missouri Boulevard.
Guard representatives have been exploring the relocation possibility. The two possible sites at Ike Skelton would be in front of the future museum or at the main gate, where the F-15 Eagle Fighter sits now.
Machon said he is both excited and intimidated about moving from 1,000-square-feet of display space to more than 6,500-square-feet.
The museum easily has enough in its collection to fill that increased space. But developing the professional-quality exhibit to explain the artifacts or provide historical context, also will take time.
Fortunately, the museum benefits from both loyal volunteers and eager interns from area universities. As the enhanced museum takes shape, Machon will rely on that help even more, he said.
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