Patton Museum reflects changing culture on installation
August 27, 2010
- BRAC moves require Armor School to move out, HRC and Accessions Command to move in
- Cultural changes throughout the installation are being reflected in the Patton Museum
Editor's Note: This is the third of a three-part series.
Turret articles in the past two editions have discussed the cultural changes and new team building taking place at Fort Knox because the post is assuming a broader mission with the arrival of more combat units.
Cultural changes-whether referring to a military culture or a societal one-don't happen overnight, and no one expects that at Fort Knox, either.
Logically enough, one of the best examples of the cultural changes on the installation may be seen at the General George Patton Museum.
"Museums preserve and exhibit objects and stories for current and future generations to study, learn, and appreciate," said Christopher Kolakowski, the director of the museum, explaining that the mission of any museum is to document cultures.
"What's going on at the museum is a microcosm of the big picture," said Col. Scott Cottrell, the former Base Realignment and Closure manager for Accessions Command. "Instead of it being an armor museum, you'll have stuff from the 100th Division, the 84th Training Command, the Big Red One, and the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
"We've had a plan for a long time to move most of the armor things to Fort Benning (Ga.) because they're part of the museum which is part and parcel of the Armor School. So the National Cavalry and Armor Museum is going to Fort Benning. But the Patton collection is staying here, and the museum will still be here, but have a different flavor."
Those changes at the museum will be reflected throughout the installation. Some monument tanks will remain at Fort Knox- particularly those at the gates-but many of them will be moved to
Fort Benning, along with many of the tanks at the museum. The cement pads vacated by tanks will eventually be occupied with other pieces of equipment representative of the new combat units, Cottrell explained.
"One of the questions I hear from (museum) visitors is, 'Why are you taking armor away''" said Mr. Kolakowski. "We're not taking armor away; you'll still be able to see the armor story. We're going to be telling the armor story in the museum, but in the larger context of the larger story of the Army and the units that are connected with Fort Knox right now and also before armor."
Mr. Kolakowski explained that 84th Training Command, due to move to Fort Knox from Fort McCoy, Wis., lived at Camp Knox before armor ever moved in.
"In some ways, the 84th is coming home; they were one of the original tenant units here in 1918. Their artillery battery did artillery training here," he said. "Actually, Camp Knox was originally supposed to be the home of artillery-which is why it's named for Henry Knox (who was George Washington's chief artillery officer for the Continental Army). There is a wider post history here."
Other Knox history includes Godman Army Airfield, which was named for an early aviator who was killed in 1918 during WWI.
"Godman is the oldest airfield in Kentucky," according to Mr. Kolakowski, who would like more of the post's history to be reflected at the museum.
Some of that history may be portrayed by including more exhibits and artifacts of early Kentucky and the Lincoln family. In fact, there has been discussion about creating trails that would allow visitors to walk to some of the historic cemeteries, but that's a long range plan.
"This is the beginning of a long-term relationship in changing the culture," Mr. Kolakowski said. "When all the units have arrived, this will become a major school house for the Army Reserve, with all the diverse missions they're capable of."
In addition to the 84th Training Command, the 100th Division of the Army Reserve will move to Fort Knox from Louisville bringing its long history with it. Already at Knox, the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team is part of the famous 1st Infantry Division, also known as the Big Red One. The division is the oldest continually serving unit in the Army and claims numerous firsts. Its legacy deserves a place in the museum along with the others.
Because the museum is a popular tourist attraction with more than 125,000 visitors each year, Mr. Kolakowski said he hears many comments from civilians who have few, if any, military connections.
"Fort Knox is identified more with the gold vault than armor," he said. "Many visitors to the museum are surprised that Soldiers are here."
"The long range process has been started through the enclave process, through what Chris is doing and what branding is doing," Col. Cottrell said. "They all work together to change the culture and build the team."