Renovated BCT museum reopens: Updated exhibit shows progression of basic training
July 7, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- After two years of renovations, the Fort Jackson Basic Combat Training Museum reopened Friday. The museum chronicles the history of the post and BCT from June 1917 to present day. The museum’s curator, Julie Fishel, said she hopes that Soldiers will use the museum as a backdrop for their personal experience in training.
“We set the museum up the way that it is so Soldiers can be their own (tour guide) as they go through the museum and share their experience with their families and the community,” she said.
One veteran relived his own BCT experience while using the M16 firing simulator during the museum’s opening day.
“Oh, I love this museum. I knew I would love it,” said Gene Smith of Edgefield. “I went through basic here back in 1955 and could not wait to get over here and see the new museum.”
The museum first opened in 1974 and housed historical artifacts relating to Fort Jackson history until 2009 when it closed for renovation.
“We moved the collections into the World War II barracks and did a complete overhaul in here,” Fishel said. “There are all new bathrooms, electric wiring, carpet and sheet rock. The gallery area was completely redone.”
The updated gallery features a mix of historical artifacts and current technology.
“We show a historical progression of basic training. So people will see the current red, white, and blue phase along with some items used for training in 1917,” Fishel said.
There are interactive elements, as well as static displays in the museum. Holograms of drill sergeants yell at museum patrons in the similar style that Soldiers hear upon arriving at Jackson.
“We had actual drill sergeants come down to the museum and get videotaped so that we could use those images in the museum,” Fishel said. On special occasions, visitors can use the laser firing simulator to imagine time out on the firing range or speak with military enthusiasts about life in different military time periods.
On opening day, the Military Vehicle Collectors of South Carolina and Military Timeline Impressions were in attendance to showcase uniforms and military equipment from the various eras represented within the museum.
“We are here for love of the history and love of the veterans,” said Kip Fordham of Military Vehicle Collectors of South Carolina. “We do this in our spare time, and we just love to get together and share what we know.”
The museum staff plans to offer tours and increase the items on display so the community can experience more of the post’s history.
“Before, everything was in storage cabinets and now we have about 12 percent of our collection on display,” Fishel said. “We have room to grow and definitely plan to take advantage of that.”