Museum overhaul to reflect history
Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
The Watervliet Arsenal Museum will stand down for the next two years as it revamps how the arsenal's two centuries of active duty is told.
Monday was the last day the museum, which is housed in a cast iron warehouse erected in 1859, was open in its present format.
"We're going to tidy up the way it's going to tell the history of the Watervliet Arsenal and the Benet Weapons Labs," said Bob Pfeil, the museum director and curator.
The museum opened in 1987, drawing on the historic artifacts, documents, photos, drawings and materials that have been collected at the arsenal since it opened in 1813. The museum also has objects from armories that were closing.
Not all the items in the museum's collection will be at the arsenal in two years. Working with the U.S. Army Center of Military History, some artifacts from the arsenal's museum will head to other military museums while others are added to the Watervliet holdings.
The Center of Military History is coordinating efforts to bring the collections and displays at each military museum in line with its speciality and story line, said John Snyder, an arsenal spokesman.
That means some of the arsenal's cannons will move to Fort Sill in Oklahoma, where the Army's artillery museums are located. The armor designed at the arsenal for trucks deployed in Iraq will go to the Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis in Virginia.
The arsenal museum will receive items such as a saddle made there in the 19th century that's currently at another facility. Other objects will return to the arsenal where they were manufactured.
Mark J. Koziol, the arsenal's museum specialist, has written a first draft of the history the museum will tell in its new exhibits.
"We have 200 years of stories to tell," said Koziol.
From the 19th-century saddles to the special bunker buster bombs designed by Benet Labs and the arsenal for the war in Iraq, that's a lot of information.
"We made 7 million bullets during the Civil War per month," Pfeil said.
The museum's collections will remain accessible for arsenal engineers and scientists to study.