NEWS | Nov. 11, 2020

Oklahoma National Guard to build new museum

By Lt. Col. Geoffrey Legler

OKLAHOMA CITY --  The Oklahoma National Guard has announced plans for the construction of a new Oklahoma National Guard Museum in Oklahoma City.
 
During a Veterans Day address at the 45th Infantry Division Museum, Brig. Gen. Jon Harrison, director of the joint staff for the Oklahoma National Guard, unveiled plans for the new 60 thousand square-foot facility.
 
As the current museum focuses heavily on the 45th Infantry Divisions service during World War II, the new Oklahoma National Guard Museum will focus on telling the entire story of the Oklahoma National Guard, from pre-statehood to modern times, as well as include both the Army and Air components in a facility with sufficient space and climate control systems to preserve artifacts.
 
In addition to the many new displays, numerous artifacts from the current 45th Infantry Division Museum will continued to be on display. There will also be a variety of interactive displays, which will provide more information about Oklahoma National Guard activities than is currently possible.
 
The 45th Infantry Division Museum staff have done an outstanding job over the past 44 years preserving the history of the National Guard, said Doug Hayworth, project manager for the Oklahoma National Guard Museum and a retired Oklahoma Air National Guardsman. The new Oklahoma National Guard Museum will continue to tell the 45th Division story, while adding the history of the entire Oklahoma National Guard.
 
Hayworth also says the new museum will not only house the history of the Oklahoma National Guard, but will serve as a meeting place for the community, and also provide opportunities for community involvement as part of the museums mission.
 
We intend for the Oklahoma National Guard Museum to be the premier state National Guard museum in the U.S., but we also want it to tell a story relevant to all Oklahoma citizens, not just National Guard members, Hayworth said.
 
Along those lines, the new museum will be focused on five goals:
  * Tell the story of Oklahomas *Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen*: Foster a deeper understanding of the unique dual mission, sacrifice and benefits of the Oklahoma National Guard member.
  * Share Oklahomas National Guard history through historical *Collections*: Establish and maintain a state-of-the-art facility to preserve and share historical artifacts and collections.
  * *Educate *each visitor on the triumphs and challenges faced by the Oklahoma National Guard: Educational programs and exhibits will inform visitors on the National Guards long history of service both in times of crisis in the state and service to the nation.
  * *Recruit *Oklahomas finest young minds to serve*: *Inspire Oklahomans to become members of their National Guard.
  * Be a part of the *Community: *Maximize public access to and use of the museum facility.
 
In addition to the exhibit galleries, the new museum will contain a multi-purpose space, a modern research library, climate controlled storage management areas, and an archival and restoration suite.
 
Once built and fully set up, the new museum will have the ability to work much closer with other museums and historical societies.
 
Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma historical society, has long championed the Oklahoma National Guards current museum as a place that celebrates Oklahoma's military history.
 
The people of Oklahoma have been defending home and honor longer than there has been a state, Blackburn said. The time is right to celebrate and preserve the rich history of honorable service by Oklahoma's Citizen Soldiers and Airmen for future generations.
 
The Adjutant General for Oklahoma, Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, has worn the 45th Infantry's Thunderbird patch since 1983 and has been a student of Oklahoma National Guard history for about as long.
 
Its important to share with the public the historical impact the Oklahoma National Guard has had on our state, nation and the world, Thompson said.
 
Most importantly, we must begin sharing the sacrifices and accomplishments our Guardsmen have made since the first Gulf War.
 
The exact location and funding source of the new museum has not been determined, but Oklahoma National Guard leaders would like for it to be within a mile of the 45th Infantry Division Museum off NE 36th Street and Interstate Highway 35 in Oklahoma City's Adventure District.