FORT LEE, Va. (May 6, 2021) — Military and civilian organizations are pledging to work together to make a museum complex on post more accessible to the public.
Leaders from U.S. Army Garrison Fort Lee, the Crater Planning District Commission and the U.S. Army Center for Military History signed a Memorandum of Understanding Thursday afternoon at the Army Women’s Museum commemorating an agreement to work together to establish a museum enclave on Fort Lee.
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The enclave includes the U.S. Army Women’s Museum, the Quartermaster Museum and the Transportation Pavilion.
Planners have discussed the possibility of an enclave since 2016, when increased security requirements at military installations made on-post museums harder for the public to visit. Their goal is to find ways to modify the installation’s infrastructure to permit unrestricted public access to the museums.
“It's important that we've got this memorandum of understanding, because what we want to do is make sure we have momentum,” said Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general. “It’s important to lay that out for the future. We're setting the foundation now, in a very positive way.”
The museums on post are used by Soldiers in training, local civilians and others to study the history portrayed inside their walls, said Col. Roger Keen, director of U.S. Army Museums.
“Soldier training at the Fort Lee museums is a key part of professional military education,” he said. “For many Soldiers – like those attending Advanced Individual Training – this might be their first time in Army Museum, allowing them to see how their current role in the Army connects to all those who went before.”
The enclave demonstrates how leaders at Fort Lee are dedicated to building relationships in the community, said Col. Karin Watson, the Fort Lee garrison commander. It also helps to preserve and showcase Army traditions.
“What we just did today with the signing of the MOU is monumental not only for Fort Lee, but also our supporting communities and partners,” she said. “It's partnerships like these that help bring the best out of our Army and our communities.”
Other military installations with museums are providing direct public access, said Dennis K. Morris, former executive director, Crater Planning District Commission.
In the memorandum, CPDC agrees to provide plans and secure funding – projected to be from 2021 Defense Community Infrastructure Program grant – for the transportation access infrastructure, fencing and internal security to the museum enclave.
“It's going to help us in growing our regional portfolio with the top tier museums that are located here at Fort Lee,” Morris said.
Formal planning meetings started in 2019, he said.
In early 2020, Fogg made the decision that the 19th Street gate could be re-opened and used for access to the museums. Fogg’s goal was to create “irreversible momentum” for the project.
The plan was endorsed by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The process was interrupted by the pandemic, but continued. Planners agreed to develop and sign the MOU to formalize the goal and the process.
“So, General Fogg, you requested irreversible momentum,” Morris said. “And today is going to be the result of your request.”