This particular gun carriage, model 1890, 3.2-inch gun, was manufactured at Rock Island Arsenal in 1894. It will be incorporated in the new exhibits at the Rock Island Arsenal Museum.

The displayed violin was made with a pocket knife in Barracks 33 of Rock Island prison and was sold in Moline, Illinois, Aug. 16, 1864. It was donated to the Rock Island Arsenal Museum by Mrs. John F. Gamble in 1964. The violin will be incorporated in the new exhibits at Rock Island Arsenal Museum.

Model 1903 Springfield Rifles were manufactured at Rock Island Arsenal between 1905 and 1921. Some of the earliest examples produced at the Arsenal will be featured in the new exhibits at Rock Island Arsenal Museum.

The Little John rocket system’s design started in 1955 and had three component parts: The rocket, an XM80 rocket launcher, and an XM505 two-wheel trailer. Both the launcher and the trailer were manufactured at Rock Island Arsenal in 1959-1960. The Little John rocket system will be included in one of the new exhibits of Rock Island Arsenal Museum. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)

The Rock Island Arsenal Museum opened in 1905 and is the second oldest U.S. Army museum. (Photo by Patrick Allie, U.S. Army)

The manufacture of leather equipment for the military has been an important mission of Rock Island Arsenal throughout its history. Horse mannequins were used to fit experimental artillery harness and cavalry equipment. This well-known horse will be incorporated in the new exhibits at the Rock Island Arsenal Museum.

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – The Rock Island Arsenal Museum is preparing to undergo a $1.5 million renovation starting in April.

The project will include the biggest modernization of the museum in over 50 years.

“The renovations will refocus the exhibits on the history of the U.S. Army’s organic industrial base, Rock Island Arsenal, and the Arsenal’s current role in producing Army readiness,” said Patrick Allie, Rock Island Arsenal Museum director.

The renovation is part of the U.S. Army Museum Enterprise’s five-year reform effort to refine its collection and enhance education and training capabilities at its 47 field museums.

“Since its opening in 1905, the Museum has told the story of the Arsenal as a part of the Quad Cities community,” said Allie, adding that the new exhibits will continue to build on that mission.

“The new exhibits will allow the museum to better fulfill its mission of educating Soldiers, civilians and the general public about the Arsenal and its commands,” he said.

The updates will include the addition of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities tied to the history of the Arsenal.

“We will be incorporating engaging interactive exhibits for both children and adults,” said Allie. “The interactives will provide visitors the opportunity to explore rarely-seen parts of the Museum’s collection, and give them hands-on experiences.”

The U.S. Army Enterprise’s reform effort also includes a “right-sizing” initiative to reduce redundancy and refine its collection to better support its mission. The end state of the reform is to create a first-class enterprise that efficiently and effectively captures, preserves, displays, and presents the material culture and heritage of the Army, now and into the future.

“The artifacts on site will be reduced as part of the Army’s collection reform efforts,” Allie said. “They will be relocated to other Army museums or storage facilities where they can be recalled for exhibits by any of the Army’s museums, or they will be made available to other government entities or historical institutions.”

To provide a sneak peek of the new exhibits, a series of virtual presentations will be held this summer outlining the new interpretation and exhibit design.

“Please stay tuned for updates on the Museum’s Facebook page or our website,, as we undergo this exciting process,” said Allie.

The museum has been closed since March 2020 due to a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We look forward to reopening our doors to the Quad Cities community in the fall of 2022.”