How the U.S. Army Finance Corps Museum educates Soldiers
April 14, 2014
The U.S. Army Finance Corps Museum, located at Fort Jackson, S.C., is part of the overall Army program to inform finance Soldiers about the significant historical events and objects that are part of their branch heritage. The goal of branch heritage training provided by the museum is to foster pride and respect for the accomplishments, history, and tradition of the Finance Corps.
As part of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the museum's primary missions are training and education of Soldiers, leader development, and artifact preservation. Curators and historians play vital roles in imparting this information.
Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 1, The Army, describes the value of esprit de corps to the Army (including the Finance Corps) as respect for history, tradition, and commitment to the highest standards of excellence. ADP 1 states, "Professionals exude purpose, demonstrate strong bonds of loyalty and pride, and place the mission above their own welfare."
Army museums recognize the importance of esprit de corps to each branch and play a vital role in the preservation and display of individual and unit histories, historical artifacts, distinctive insignia, and like items. The exhibits and displays at the Finance Corps Museum ensure individuals understand and remember the dedication and commitment demonstrated by exemplary members of the Finance Corps. The financial management (FM) community enjoys a strong bond based largely on its shared understanding of branch heritage and values. The Finance Corps Museum is a major part of that understanding.
Formed in 1954 as an outgrowth of a Finance Corps history display at the Finance Center, United States Army, at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., the Finance Corps Museum evolved into a relatively small but important museum, containing a combined total of 6,200 artifacts in both exhibits and collections areas. After the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1994, the Finance Corps Museum closed at Fort Benjamin Harrison and moved to Fort Jackson in 1996.
The museum currently comes under the jurisdiction of the commandant of the FM School. The school uses museum tours to educate its students on branch history.
The Finance Corps Museum focuses on the significant leaders and events that contributed to the Army and the Finance Corps and their relevance to the professionalism of today's FM personnel. The museum curator conducts these tours, providing FM students with a historical timeline of the Finance Corps' professional evolution from the American Revolution (1775) to the present. He tailors the presentation to the touring group, which may comprise students in FM advanced individual training, the FM Basic Officer Leadership Course, FM Captains Career Course, FM Transition Course, or the Deployed Operations Resource Management Course.
FINANCE CORPS WEBSITE
Although museum tours are essential to exposing FM students to the history and artifacts of the Finance Corps, the museum has other less traditional ways of exposing visitors to branch heritage history.
The Finance Corps Museum website, http://www.finance.army.mil/Museum/index.html, has brief exhibit displays by topic, a historical timeline, a Finance Corps heritage and values video, an activation of the Finance Corps video, and links to documents, such as "A History of the Pay Department and Finance Corps, 1775-1985." More links and items will be added in the future.
The website serves as an important bridge for those who are interested in the history of the Finance Corps but have not yet visited the museum to view the exhibits and their related artifacts firsthand. The website also provides an email link to the museum curator, the curator's telephone number, and museum hours.
FINANCE MUSEUM BLOG
Through milSuite, the Finance Corps Museum has another way to reach and communicate with FM Soldiers in a secure environment. The Financial Management School's milBook page provides a link to the official U.S. Army Finance Corps Museum blog: https://www.milsuite.mil/book/blogs/financecorpsmuseum.
In February 2013, the museum curator began posting a monthly Finance Corps history article. Although these blog articles serve a history function, they also provide professional development and inculcate esprit de corps within the FM community. The blog articles are illustrated with relevant historical photos. They act as online museum exhibits but are packed with more information. Viewers can make comments or suggestions to the article, which the curator can then respond to. This makes for a dynamic learning experience that the traditional museum exhibit generally cannot replicate.
IMPROVING ONSITE INTERACTIVITY
One method we are exploring for improving the interactive experience of museum visitors is the quick response (QR) code. Although the museum does not currently use QR codes, it has the vast potential to augment the visitor's experience by giving a visitor instant access to additional information through a smartphone or mobile digital device.
An excellent example of where the Finance Corps Museum could use a QR code is on an exhibit displaying Military Payment Certificates (Army scrip). A visitor would be able to scan the QR code, and an illustrated panel showing all of the Army's scrip that ever existed would appear on his smartphone. The importance of this is that the QR code would augment the museum experience, not replace it. Much like the museum website, the QR code may entice the visitor to actually go to the museum.
The U.S. Army Finance Corps Museum is a blend of traditional (static exhibit displays and artifacts) and virtual (museum website and museum blog) information. In concert with technology, the museum functions as a learning conduit for FM students and personnel by presenting an environment that fosters esprit de corps, branch heritage training, and an understanding of American military history. It is the museum's solemn responsibility to share that mission with all of its visitors--both virtually and on site.
Bob McConnell, a former enlisted Soldier and Armor officer, is the curator for the Finance Corps Museum at Fort Jackson, S.C. He holds master's degree in museum studies and modern American history from the University of South Carolina.