Since announcement of the proposed location for the facility 13 months ago, more than $500,000 has been raised for the National Museum for Mounted Warfare and Soldier Center.
The National Mounted Warfare Foundation, the fundraising arm of the museum, has raised $580,000 in gifts and pledges, said retired Col. Larry Phelps, senior vice president for business development and chief of staff for the foundation. To complete the first phase of the project and open the museum to the public, the foundation is raising $30 million.
“It’s been a very good year in terms of local fundraising,” Phelps said from the foundation’s downtown offices Tuesday. “That local fundraising effort is just critical. ... It’s important, as we go outside of our Central Texas area and approach potential lead donors, that we’re able to show what a great level of support we get from the home team.”
Because of this financial support, Phelps said they are still on target to open the first phase of the museum by 2019 on 65 acres donated by Fort Hood near the visitors center and the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Detachment Stables off T.J. Mills Boulevard.
Local resident Pat Kaufman donated to the foundation and joined the board because he said he sees the potential of the project to benefit the entire community and to share the stories of soldiers stationed at Fort Hood.
“I feel really strong that the stories that our soldiers have need to be told and documented,” he said. “Every soldier could write a book. From the Revolutionary War until now, every one of those people has a book they could write, and there’s a lot of history tied up in their experience.”
Upon its initial opening, the museum will be 66,000 square feet, Phelps said, with half of that designated for exhibits. By the end of phase three, the museum will be 100,000 square feet and — because of its emphasis on children, family and education — will include a playground and a walking trail along the grounds.
“We want to make the most use of that 65 acres,” Phelps said. “Folks can show up to a beautifully landscaped area and have a great walk, and as they walk, see combat equipment portrayed in its native environment.
“The visitor experience doesn’t start or end at the door of the museum. ... It’s an experience across the building and the grounds.”
Inside, the museum aims to be interactive with simulators, hologram images and touchscreen technology — telling the story of the 70-year-old Fort Hood and Central Texas at different levels for all ages and backgrounds to enjoy.
“We’re refining that story and turning it into a coherent storyline,” Phelps said. “How do we educate future generations about everything that’s happened here?”
Both the 1st Cavalry Division Museum and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Museum will be incorporated into the new Mounted Warfare Museum when it opens.
“The two museums now, really are not the caliber of museum we’d like to have, or deserve to have,” Kaufman said. “The other thing I think it’s going to do is draw people from across the United States. We’re trying to make it a world-class kind of facility so it will attract those folks.”