WASHINGTON — If you drive on U.S. Route 1 by Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, you can see the National Museum of the United States Army under construction.
Although construction started more than a year ago, it will be another two years before the museum opens.
The $200 million project was originally expected to open in 2019, but that has been pushed back to 2020.
The 185,000-square-foot-museum space will house more than 1,300 artifacts, documents and images that will be selected from the Army’s total collection of 630,000 items in order to tell the stories of American soldiers.
The Army Historical Foundation said that most of the artifacts and art pieces have never been seen by the American public. The foundation is leading the fundraising campaign for the museum and it is overseeing the construction.
The museum will house the three main galleries: Soldiers’ Stories; Fighting for the Nation; Army and Society.
“I think this is the most important thing I’ve ever been involved in,” said Brig. Gen. Creighton Abrams, the executive director with the Army Historical Foundation.
Abrams served in the Army for more than 30 years.
He said the building is 59 percent complete and should be finished in another year, at that point the foundation will hand off control of the museum to the Army.
A foundation spokesman said the Army is waiting until the construction is further along before giving a firm opening date for the museum.
Abrams said the Army is one of the cornerstones of the country.
“We created the Army (Continental Army) in 1775 more than a year before we signed the Declaration of Independence,” he said.
The purpose of the museum will be to honor every single American soldier whoever served in the U.S. from its inception in 1775 to the present day.
When the museum does open sometime in 2020 admission will be free. It is estimated the museum will welcome 500,000 to 700,000 visitors each year.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of artifacts.