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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | May 16, 2024

Oklahoma National Guard breaks ground on new museum

By Story by Anthony Jones, Video by Cpl. Danielle Rayon

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma National Guard broke ground on the new Oklahoma National Guard Museum in Oklahoma City in a ceremony attended by veterans and current National Guard members on May 16.

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VIDEO | 01:42 | Oklahoma National Guard breaks ground on new museum


“Today is a milestone for us as we kick off [construction of the new museum],” said Denise Neil, executive director of the Oklahoma National Guard Museum. “It’s an exciting time, shoveling the dirt forward as a symbolic way to show our kick-off.”

Neil said the new 39,375-square-foot building, located at 3301 NE Grand Blvd in Oklahoma City, will provide the Museum with the space and tools needed to tell the Oklahoma National Guard’s story from its founding through modern times.

Many Oklahomans and military historians may recognize the Oklahoma National Guard Museum’s previous name, the 45th Infantry Division Museum.

The 45th Infantry Division Museum first opened its doors in 1974 and from that time until 2021, focused on sharing the history of the 45th Infantry Division, an Oklahoma Army National Guard unit active from the 1920s through 1968.

The Museum was renamed by an act of the Oklahoma State Legislature in 2021 and refocused on collecting, preserving, and sharing the history of the entire Oklahoma National Guard, including both the Air and Army National Guard.

“All of the exhibitions will be brand new, with some of the storylines of the 45th Infantry Division carrying over from the current museum,” Neil said. “We will also be expanding that storyline so we’re starting with the history of the Oklahoma National Guard beginning in 1890 with the establishment of the territorial militia and moving up as contemporary as possible.”

Neil said the new museum will include gallery spaces dedicated to teaching about the role of the National Guard at home as well as the Guard’s well-known overseas deployments.

“We are expanding beyond telling the story of war so that we can tell the story of how the Guard responds to natural and man-made disasters,” Neil said. “This will cover early deployments in the state as well as later contemporary stories like the Murrah Bombing, and certainly all the tornados and hurricanes the Guard has responded to.”

Along with the added gallery spaces, the new building will feature improved storage and archival rooms.

“The new building will allow us to have better storage, more temperature and humidity controlled storage and larger storage space so we have room to preserve and take care of the collection for generations to come,” Neil said.

The Oklahoma National Guard Museum is currently housed in a historic National Guard armory built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and, according to Neil, the Museum will remain open at its current location on 36th Street until construction is completed in approximately two years.

During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino, the adjutant general for Oklahoma, praised the OKNG Museum’s staff for their dedication to preserving the Guard’s legacy in the nearly 90-year-old building.

He said through their hard work, the historic building has continually supported the National Guard’s mission and the new building will help ensure the National Guard’s history is preserved for future Oklahomans.

“This building will continue to share the legacy of the 45th and the Oklahoma National Guard for generations to come,” Mancino said. “Thank you to everyone who has made this happen. I’m glad to share this [moment] with you today.

The Oklahoma National Guard Museum is free to visit. For more information about the Museum, visit https://okngmuseum.com.
Video by Cpl. Danielle Rayon
Oklahoma National Guard breaks ground on new museum
Oklahoma National Guard
May 16, 2024 | 1:42
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma National Guard broke ground on the new Oklahoma National Guard Museum in Oklahoma City in a ceremony attended by veterans and current National Guard members on May 16.

“Today is a milestone for us as we kick off [construction of the new museum],” said Denise Neil, executive director of the Oklahoma National Guard Museum. “It’s an exciting time, shoveling the dirt forward as a symbolic way to show our kick-off.”

Neil said the new 39,375-square-foot building, located at 3301 NE Grand Blvd in Oklahoma City, will provide the Museum with the space and tools needed to tell the Oklahoma National Guard’s story from its founding through modern times.

CG INFO
00:00:11:01
Denise Neil; Executive Director of the Oklahoma National Guard Museum
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