A museum that will tell the history and story of America’s mounted soldiers is a step closer to breaking ground near Fort Hood’s main gate.

The design for the National Mounted Warrior Museum was unveiled Wednesday during an event at Texas A&M University-Central Texas.

“It’s close to becoming a reality,” National Mounted Warfare Foundation Chairman Bill Kliewer told the crowd of around 90 local officials, donors and others interested in the project. “Very, very close.”

Kliewer noted that the foundation has been working for about eight years to bring the museum from idea to reality.

Foundation Vice President Bob Crouch said the design unveiling was timed to take advantage of a significant moment in Fort Hood history.

“Seventy-seven years ago today,” Crouch said, “Brig. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce established the initial boundaries and plans for what would become Camp Hood, and now, Fort Hood.”

Crouch went on to say that the museum may represent the “next step in the evolution of The Great Place.”

Crouch said the foundation needs just over $2 million to reach its capital goal for Phase 1 construction. The goal is to have the museum open in 2021.

According to the foundation’s website, the phase 1 goal is $10,900,962, and the current total raised is $8,442,717.

III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II said the museum will ultimately be a place that shows why military service matters.

“I ask every young man and woman...why do you serve?” Funk said during the unveiling ceremony. “Their stories will astound you. And we need a place to tell those stories.”

Crouch said the design phase of the project will be completed by the end of this month. With the design in hand, backers only need only to reach their phase 1 fundraising goal and get approval from the Secretary of the Army to begin construction.

The museum will be located on a 17 acre piece of land near Fort Hood’s front gate. Crouch said the location will allow civilians to visit the museum without needing a pass to enter the post.

Phase 1 will consist of a 28,000-square-foot structure containing permanent interactive exhibits, temporary exhibit space, children’s discovery areas, and a children’s playground outside the building.

Additional construction phases will add more exhibit space, classrooms, offices and an outdoor amphitheater.

Eventually, the museum is expected to draw 265,000 visitors a year, with three-quarters of them coming from outside the Killeen-Temple area, officials said.

For more about the project, go to http://nmwfoundation.org/.

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