This is the first of a two-part series on the John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex on Fort Leonard Wood.

Soldiers in training at Fort Leonard Wood have the opportunity to learn about their occupational specialties in a historic way.

Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S. Army Engineer, Chemical, and Military Police corps and Fort Leonard Wood museums, and each play a role in supporting their branch.

"We are here for the function of teaching Soldiers," said Kip Lindberg, U.S. Army Chemical Corps Museum director. "We teach primarily about Soldier instruction, history and tradition."

Scott Franklin, U.S. Army Engineer Museum curator, agreed.

"Being a TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) museum, we are here to train Soldiers," he said. Franklin estimated the Engineer Museum does about 800 hours of direct Soldier training annually.

Lindberg said training in the museums is about developing a three-dimensional classroom by using artifacts from the branch history to teach Soldiers. Franklin added the museum also serves as a great liaison to members of the general public who want to learn more about the history of the Army.

"Especially if they have sons or daughters going through training," Franklin said.

Franklin said the engineers have nearly 8,000 items in their collection. Lindberg said the Chemical Corps Museum includes more than 6,000 items, but only 10 percent is on display at any given time. Jim Rogers, U.S. Army MP Museum director, said their collection includes more than 5,100 items.

With so many items in the collection, the museums each have their way of showing the history of their branch and keeping the displays fresh for visitors.

The Military Police Museum is undergoing renovations to change the way their items are displayed, Rogers said.

They will be changing from a chronological display to a functional area layout to highlight the different aspects of the military police, Rogers said.

"(It's) all done in mind for Soldier training," he said. "An MP Soldier in training, whether it is basic or OSUT, can go into an area and see their specific function and see side-by-side comparisons through time with different artifacts."

The John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex is located in Bldg. 1607, at 495 South Dakota Avenue, which is the intersection of South Dakota and Nebraska avenues. It is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The museum complex is open to the public, and there are no admission fees.

(Editor's note: Go behind the scenes with the museums and their collection in the March 9 issue.)