The National Museum of the United States Army in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, is the first to capture, interpret, display and preserve over 245 years of Army history. Its objectives are to educate the public about its role in American history and to honor America’s soldiers. In the new exhibition facility, stories of soldiers are joined by thousands of artifacts, documents and graphics in a series of chronological and thematic galleries. The museum brings to life history in times of war and peace, as seen through the eyes of soldiers. Approximately 45,000 square feet of exhibit space is divided in galleries: Soldiers’ Stories, Founding the Nation, Preserving the Nation, Nation Overseas, Global War, Cold War, Changing World and Army and Society. The facility is flanked by a park with gardens and a parade ground. Space is included to accommodate ceremonies, re-enactments, lectures, educational programs and reunions.
For Meyvaert, this multi-phase project started in 2015, long before the first stone was laid. We manufactured 53 display cases in batches after the designs were approved. Next, we fully integrated the cases into the setworks, which were fabricated by D&P. The carefully considered case designs allow a coherent presentation of delicate objects alongside army vehicles and airplanes that are suspended above the exhibition. Many of the centrally positioned freestanding cases appear as if they are hovering above the ground. We achieved this impression by recessing in steel legs from the sides. To fabricate these legs, we coordinated with a local supplier. Some of the inset wall cases are equipped with faceted glass and have long winding forms resembling curves or S-shapes. We also installed cases with front glass that slopes at an angle rather than vertical, as well a case with a tilted back panel.
The distinctive display cases give the gallery a less regimented format and energize the space, encouraging visitors to explore the case contents. To make their vision a reality, the designers capitalized on Meyvaert’s expertise in three key fundamentals of the NMUSA project: experience with designs that feature elongated surfaces of faceted glass, familiarity with the military context, and the capability to manage a multi-phased project that requires extensive coordination with contractors.
See the results in the video and pictures below:
National Museum of the United States Army
Christopher Chadbourne, Eisterhold
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP
53 bespoke cases
Photos: ©2020 Duncan R. Millar / Design and Production Incorporated