Although terms such as "sorties," "Scuds" and "SAMs" are less than two weeks old in the popular vocabulary, there are some people who are already putting the Persian Gulf War into the context of history. "There's been a tendency in the past for museums to come in after the fact," says Lt. Col. William Beebe, director of the Marine Corps Air-Ground Museum in Quantico. "They receive material 10 years to 20 years later, so what we're trying to do is actively seek that stuff in any available form now."

Beebe oversees a staff of seven civilians and 11 military personnel who will collect items for display in the Air-Ground Museum, an arrangement of four hangars at the Quantico base that house aircraft, weapons and other military artifacts from wars. Among the items being sought: uniforms ("from the allied forces as well as the enemy"), maps, charts and graphics ("of course, much of that would be classified"), flags, markers, signs used by the enemy, heavy armaments and fragments of enemy missiles.

But the big prizes are the aircraft. "MiG 23s, French Mirages, MiG 25s and MiG 29s, those we would be actively seeking," says Beebe. "It's quite a large undertaking. But of course, it becomes secondary to our primary mission over there."

The museum/hangars, open to the public only from April 1 to Nov. 28, currently are divided into three military eras: 1900 to 1941, the World War II years and the Korean War years. Plans for the fourth hangar, which now serves as an artifact restoration facility, would encompass the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. Completion of the exhibit of gulf war materials is not expected for "five to 10 years down the road," according to Beebe.

Beebe believes it's important to catalogue and preserve articles of war so that future generations can learn from the past. "People are looking at this war right now as a video game, and they have a tendency not to think about the other things that go along with it," he says. "People have a tendency to think of museums as things being kept in display condition, just the cosmetic exterior. But museums serve other functions -- they serve for research as well. Years later people come back and take a look at these things and {realize that} technology has caught up with the old ideas. The Marine Corps museums are encouraging our folks and others to use the museums as education tools as much as they do for pleasure."

'Rocky' Still Rolling

Let's do the Time Warp again. And again. For the second time since its opening on Oct. 29, "The Rocky Horror Show" is being extended by the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, this time to March 3. The musical has proven to be a boost for the theater, which recently has been on shaky financial legs. As of the weekend more than 9,000 people have seen the stage musical, and the theater is near capacity each night. Although Woolly Mammoth officials wouldn't reveal gross revenue figures, a spokesperson said "Rocky" box office receipts have been covering the total costs of the production, while most shows recover only 50 percent from ticket sales. Adding to the theater's bankbook is the sale each night of 75 to 100 audience-participation kits -- at $3 apiece -- that contain foam toast, confetti and other kitschy props to be used by the audience during key scenes. Managing director Gregg Stull said the show's success "did take us by surprise" and that the theater would consider "doing more musicals should we find that they fit into our mission" of presenting offbeat works.

A Promising Turnout

The open auditions for spots in the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Company presentation of "The Promised Land" drew 103 aspiring dancers a week ago at Dance Place. The New York-based company has been recruiting locals to appear in the last section of "The Promised Land" in each of the 22 cities where it is being performed. Although the work -- co-presented here by the Washington Performing Arts Society, District Curators Inc. and George Washington University -- requires nudity, the auditioners were not asked to disrobe at the tryouts.

"I was so thrilled that so many people showed up," said Kim Chan, WPAS's director of dance and new performance. "It made Washington look great. Bill was ecstatic by the end of the day. It showed the mainstream world that this area is not as parochial as people think it is."

The show will run March 22-23 at Lisner Auditorium.

New Smithsonian Publisher

Ron Walker takes over as publisher of Smithsonian and Air & Space/Smithsonian magazines effective March 23. Walker, former vice president and general manager of Sunset magazine, succeeds retiring publisher Joseph J. Bonsignore.