USACE Supports the National Museum of the U.S. Army

The opening of the National Museum of the United States Army on November 11, 2020, was the culmination of decades of effort to document the achievement of the country’s oldest military branch. While there are many Army museums and historical collections across the country that preserve and interpret U.S. Army history, they generally limit their subject matter to the history of specific Army branches, units, and installations. There was not a single museum to showcase the collective history of the entire Army. This museum, which was built by the North Atlantic Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is designed to tell soldier stories of service in the regular Army, Army Reserves, and Army National Guard, from every conflict in the more than 245-year history of the United States of America.

A scale model of a dredge under a case

A scale model of the Corps of Engineers’ dustpan dredge Kennedy on exhibit.

Initially the Corps of Engineers provided support by constructing the approximately 185,000-square-foot facility. Then the Army’s Electronic Security Systems Mandatory Center of Expertise, Huntsville Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed the security system of the building and grounds. The Huntsville Center provided a specialized system that met all security requirements and did not detract from the museum experience.

For the eleven temporary and permanent exhibit galleries, USACE staff provided nineteen artifacts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Historical Collection, part of the Office of History, to tell the stories of Army Engineers and the Army as a whole. Some objects are purely military focused, such as early examples of Army Engineer hand tools, while others document Corps of Engineers’ cutting-edge technology of the day to perform its missions, from a mid-nineteenth-century survey transit to an early 1980s portable computer. The Corps of Engineers’ disaster response mission, unique within the Army, is represented by material gathered at the World Trade Center site in the days after the September 11 attack in New York City. The “Army and Society Gallery” places the Corps’ civil works endeavors in the context of the larger impact the Army has had on American society over the years.

These Corps of Engineers artifacts joined some of the crown jewels of the Army Museum Enterprise in the National Museum of the United States Army, such as a sword belonging to John Barrow, commander of the water battery at Fort McHenry; General Ulysses S. Grant’s forage cap; the air rifle carried by Meriwether Lewis; Cobra King, the first American tank to reach the surrounded town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, and the engine from the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shot down in the Battle of Mogadishu.

The Army’s history is not just that of defending the nation. It has had wide and deep impact in times of peace, from facilitating the development of the nation, developing technology to benefit broader society, providing education and experience to future national leaders, and fostering a shared patriotism and commitment to the nation through service.

For information on visiting the National Museum of the United States Army, please visit their website:

Exhibit of an airplane part from September 11 attacks in New York


Surveying equipment and devices in a case

An aircraft part recovered from the September 11 World Trade Center site and collected and preserved as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Historical Collection.


The Civil War gallery displays a compass, transit, and survey chain transferred from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Historical Collection.

January 2021. No 141.