Opened on July 4, 1905, the Rock Island Arsenal Museum is the second oldest museum in the Army. The museum is well known for its significant weapons collection, which is the second largest in the nation. The collection includes a large number of experimental and low serial-number weapons.


The Ordnance Museum at Rock island Arsenal was opened to the public on July 4, 1905. There were three unrelated but important events that led to the founding of the museum.

On October 1, 1903, Chief of Ordnance Major General William Crozier notified Rock island Arsenal that fifteen boxes of ordnance materiel would shortly be arriving "for the purpose of preserving it in a Military Museum to be established at the Rock Island Arsenal."

A small arms plant for manufacturing the Model 1903 rifle was established at Rock Island Arsenal in 1904. In order to make room for the manufacturing plant, the weapons and obsolete materiel that had been warehoused at Rock Island Arsenal were sold at auction. Before this materiel was shipped, two examples of each gun were selected and retained for the museum.

The primary mission of the museum at Rock Island Arsenal was the history of Rock Island Arsenal and Arsenal Island. Its secondary mission was the history of small arms development.

In 1987, the museum was renamed the Rock Island Arsenal Museum to reflect its primary purpose. The phrase "People, Processes, and Products," was coined to explain the important themes in the history of Rock Island Arsenal. The small arms collection remained an important but secondary aspect of the museum collection.

More information is available at the museum's Web site:

RIA Museum Facts

Formerly known as: John M. Browning Memorial Museum
Established: July 4, 1905
Locations: Building 102, 1905-1909; Building 102, 1919-1942; Building 60, 1948-present
Small Arms Collection: 1,215 weapons
Notable Firearms: RIA M1903 #1, M1 Garand #2, SPIW Weapons, M1869 .50-100 Pistol, M-15 GO #1, Gold Plated M60