Thousands of artifacts that have never been seen by the public may have a new home soon.
Major Gen. John F. Campbell, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, announced Wednesday that an adjusted, phased design approach for the proposed ‘Wings of Liberty’ museum will be implemented to better tell the story of Fort Campbell Soldiers and their Families.
The proposed $36 million museum has been in the works for more than 10 years and will replace Pratt Museum on post. Currently, Pratt Museum can display only 20 percent of Fort Campbell’s numerous artifacts.
“Eighty percent, we cannot show the public,” said Campbell. “Now that’s just a crying shame.”
Campbell said that getting the project off the ground is the final item on his agenda before he leads the division in Afghanistan this summer.
“We absolutely have to get these artifacts out there, so that the public and the veterans can see what this legendary division and this post has to offer,” said Campbell.
“We’ve got to get this thing moving.”
The project is tentatively scheduled to be completed in around two years, in two phases, with ground being broken around the time the division’s headquarters element returns from Afghanistan.
The recently adopted, phased approach will allow the new museum to go up much quicker, said Kem Hinton of the Tuck-Hinton Architectural Firm, based out of Nashville, Tenn.
“It’s more of an adjusted design, than a redesign,” said Hinton whose firm helped create the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Frist Center. “The significant changes in design are that instead of a two level tiered building, it’s a one level building that is 68,000 square feet.”
Hinton said that the “Wings of Liberty’ Museum will be located on a hill-side off of Highway 41A and Tiny Town Road, making it easily accessible to the general public as well as Soldiers and their Families.
The new home to Fort Campbell’s most treasured artifacts will include a spacious lobby, ample parking and a multi-purpose room that can accommodate up to 500 people, said Hinton. The room could also be used for a trade show to bring visitors of all varieties to the building.
Interactive exhibits featuring all of Fort Campbell’s units, including 5th Special Forces Group and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment will also be on display, along with one of four gliders used in the invasion of Normandy by the 327th Infantry Regiment.
“It’s an incredibly valuable artifact, it’s 80-feet long and will reside in the multi-purpose event hall,” said Hinton.
The museum will also contain a memorial exhibit, dedicated to the sacrifices that Fort Campbell Soldiers have made through the years, he said.
“To tell you that this has been an easy project would be the understatement of the century,” said Jack Turner, The Wings of Liberty Campaign Vice Chairman. “It’s been tough.”
Turner said that $15 million still needs to be raised in order to complete the museum, but a renewed sense of energy has recently invigorated the project.
The CEO and President of the Fort Campbell Historical Foundation, retired Gen. J.H. Binford Peay, III, offered these comments in a press release:
“We are pleased with the adjusted new design of the Wings of Liberty Museum. This is a nationally significant project that will preserve history for future generations. This approach allows for earlier presentation of artifacts and history to our Soldiers, continues our momentum and recognizes the reality of fund raising challenges in the current environment.”