A museum featuring more than a century’s worth of military artifacts is moving to a new location in Jefferson City.
The Museum of Missouri Military History opened in 1999 and sees about 3,000 visitors annually. But officials hope that number will grow this summer when the revamped attraction is tentatively scheduled to reopen in converted mechanical school maintenance bays at the entrance of the Missouri National Guard’s Ike Skelton Training Site.
The attraction had been housed in the oldest remaining building from the site’s days as the Algoa prison. But many items didn’t fit well in the space, including a homemade Philippine cannon made of ironwood that was too large and a World War I German mortar that was too heavy. And most of the books, photos and papers in the museum’s collection took up too much space.
Now, Curator Charles Machon along with interns, volunteers and Guard members will sort and re-create exhibits to fit into the new museum space and its 25 new display boxes. Items such as the World War I German mortar will be out for public viewing, packaged with uniforms, manuals and other antiques from the era.
The Spanish-American War exhibit now may include many more of the museum’s artifacts, including the Philippine cannon.
“We only had a small section for the Spanish-American War,” Machon said of the former site. “Now we have more space to help tell the story.”
A display Machon is looking forward to building will feature “trench art,” such as a cigarette lighter made with shell casings and coins and a 90 millimeter shell formed into a pitcher engraved with names from the 1904 Missouri Artillery unit.
Pieces like these provide more depth to the history of the military, Machon said.
“They could take the instruments of war and make something else,” he said.
Staying within the $750,000 federal limit for such a renovation, the museum has sealed all but two bay doors, added insulation and dry wall to the two-story facility, repainted the floor and walls, installed energy-efficient heating and cooling units, and added LED lighting.
“This is serious business, a large step forward,” said Maj. Alan Brown.