The long-awaited National Museum of the Army will be constructed on the north post of Fort Belvoir, the Army has announced.
The site of the museum has been under debate for nearly three decades, but this time, the Army says the decision is final.
“This long-overdue facility will offer the American people a unique opportunity to connect with our soldiers and better understand and appreciate their many and glorious stories,” Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh said Friday in a statement announcing the decision.
The 41-acre site is located near the Kingman Gate along the Fairfax County Parkway.
Although it has dozens of smaller museums around the country showcasing different aspects of its history, the Army is the only service without a centralized museum.
The location of the museum has been an object of contention since 1983, when the Army set up a committee to select a site. Arlington National Cemetery was favored early on, until objections were raised that the land was needed for more grave sites. In the mid-1990s, the Army wanted to buy private property in Arlington County for the museum, but Congress objected to the expense.
Sites at the Washington Navy Yard and in Carlisle, Pa. were also considered, but finally, in 2001, the main post at Fort Belvoir was named as the site for the museum.
But the 2005 base realignment and closure project, which is adding 19,000 jobs and a new hospital to the post, threw a wrench in the plans to put the museum on a 30-acre site along Route 1..
“The museum could not go across the street from the hospital because of concerns about traffic,” said Fort Belvoir spokesman Don Carr. “The plans for the museum had to take a back seat.”
The date for the museum to open has been pushed back from 2013 to 2015 because of the delay in selecting a new site. The museum will be funded privately through the Army Historical Foundation.
“Now that a site for the Army’s museum has been determined, the development of the museum’s master plan can be finalized,” said Judson Bennett, executive director of the musuem project officer at Fort Belvoir.