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In the late 1980s, Congress authorized each U.S. military service branch to develop their own national centers to house and interpret their history for the American public. On November 10, 2006, President George W. Bush dedicated a National Museum of the Marine Corps. The Museum which has a collection of more than 30,000 items, hosts more than 500,000 guests annually at its Quantico, Virginia location. Its mission includes, collecting, interpreting and preserving objects that reflect the history of the Marine Corps.
As an aside, a portion of the Museum’s extensive art collection is now on loan to the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum for one year in celebration of the centennial of Marine Corps aviation. Featuring the work of celebrated Marine Corps Combat artists like Major Donna Neary, Colonel Peter Gish and the Museum’s own Deputy Director, Captain Charlie Grow, the art is dazzling and presents a terrific visual snapshot of Marine aviation through the last 100 years.
When you look at the artwork and objects that the Marine Corps has collected in their museum, you’re immediately struck by the fact that the displays primarily focus on Marines – on people, not equipment. It reinforces a philosophy that the most dangerous weapon on the battlefield is not a tank or a plane or a ship or a rifle, but rather the men (and women) who operate these instruments of destruction. The National Museum of the Marine Corps is about Marines and that’s the way it should be. A fantastic virtual tour of the museum is here.