FORT KNOX, Ky. — The General George Patton Museum of Leadership is reopening its doors April 1 after a several four month hiatus due to COVID-19 and staffing shortages.
Visitors planning a trip to the museum packed with Patton artifacts and memorabilia are in for a special treat, said museum director Nathan Jones.
“There have been a lot of changes,” said Jones.
To address staffing, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command has since filled two civilian employee positions with another one to be filled in a couple of months, but two other positions have been created and filled by the Patton Foundation. Those two will focus on fundraising and marketing; two areas Jones said there was a need.
“[The Foundation] is becoming far more involved than they have in the past,” said Jones. “As a result, visitors are going to see more than just Army civilians running around here, and these folks are enhancing our capabilities to the nth degree. They’re really helping us do a lot of things that we just otherwise wouldn’t have the bandwidth for.”
While Ashley Ford, the marketing and outreach director, devotes much of her time to creating content on social media, especially on the museum’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PattonMuseum/, director of fundraising Mike Martin said he is working on building connections that will allow more artifacts to be displayed for the public to view.
“If we get enough money, most of the artifacts that we have behind closed doors will come out,” said Martin.
“Our big plan is to display as many artifacts as we possibly can,” said Jones. “The people own all of this, after all. This is all theirs, and they deserve to see it.”
A researcher and expert on all things Patton, Jones said the museum has never been intended to be a shrine to the famed general.
“We’re not putting him on a pedestal. Patton was really no different than me or you; he had his strengths and weaknesses like any other person, and he had his successes and failures,” said Jones. “What was different about him was his drive, persistence, belief in himself and hard work ethic.
“In a word, he was resilient. We all can be like Patton.”
Jones said while the focus of the museum will remain centered around Patton’s legacy, he plans to also refresh the other areas that don’t have a Patton tie.
“We’re planning a complete redo of all the exhibits in the galleries,” said Jones. “This is where the foundation comes in. They’re raising the money to help us do that. Museums are not cheap.”
They hope to bring the exhibits into the 21st century with technology and later incorporate Fort Knox history by using the World War II barracks building that sits near the museum as a secondary museum. They even plan to someday create a traveling element with the hopes of bringing the museum to Americans who might not otherwise be able to visit.
“We’ve got lots of big plans, lots of big dreams,” said Jones, “and we see this becoming a world-class museum that everybody at Fort Knox and the region can be proud of.”