The National Mounted Warfare Foundation has raised its goal of $10.9 million needed to build Phase I of a new, state-of-the-art museum near Fort Hood’s main gate.
“Projected to open in 2022, although we could open earlier, Phase I of the Museum will be a 28,700 square foot structure including 13,000 square feet of interactive and immersive permanent exhibit galleries and over 7,000 square feet of temporary exhibit space,” Bob Crouch, vice president of the foundation, said Monday. “We expect to construct Phases II through VII sequentially once Phase I is underway.”
According to Crouch, Phase II will expand the permanent exhibit gallery space by 11,000 square feet. Phase III will be the construction of two 1,500 square foot multi-purpose conference/classrooms, Phase IV will be the construction of the museum gift shop and foundation staff offices, Phase V will be the construction of staff offices for the museum curators, Phase VI will be an upgraded outdoor amphitheater and Phase VII will be an additional pair of multi-functional conference/classrooms.
“While we have funded Phase I, we still have several phases we need to raise money for, so we would definitely appreciate continued donations,” Crouch said.
While the city of Killeen provided about $1.3 million in seed money to get the foundation underway, most of the funding for the museum was raised from private donations, including a $5 million donation came from an anonymous donor in April 2014.
The Army is expected to allow the foundation to build the museum building on approximately 17 acres of land immediately adjacent to the Fort Hood visitors’ center and overlooking Interstate 14, outside of Fort Hood’s fenced security area. That means visitors will not have to go through a Fort Hood gate to access the museum — a point, officials say, that could lead to greater attendance numbers.
Additionally, the U.S. Army Center of Military History will fund the design, fabrication, and installation of the museum’s exhibits. Upon completion of Phase I, the Army will assume ownership and management of the museum, while the foundation continues to plan and fundraiser for future expansion. Fort Hood’s two existing museums — the 1st Cavalry Division Museum and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Museum — will close and move into the new museum building, officials said.
Retired Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, the president and CEO of the National Mounted Warfare Foundation, said in late December the foundation has reached the financial threshold required to request permission of the Secretary of the Army to build the museum.
The approval paperwork is currently making its way through the Army chain of command, Crouch said on Monday.
In addition to memorializing the many units and soldiers who at one time called Fort Hood home, the museum also will be a go-to destination for visitors and could attract thousands of others annually to the Killeen-Fort Hood area, foundation officials said.
Crouch said attendance at the museum is projected to be 265,000 visitors in the first year, including 195,000 visitors from outside the local area,
The museum expects to bring in a minimum of $5 million annually to the local economy, said Funk.
According to Crouch, the top expenses in the $26 million capital campaign goal include $10.9 million for Phase I of the building, $10.4 million for exhibits and an additional $5 million to complete Phases II through VII.
Officials have downsized the museum plan over the years. When it was announced in 2011, the foundation was envisioning a $130 million military museum between 85,000 and 100,000 square feet.
The foundation hopes to be able to break ground on the museum by May 2020, Crouch said. “Anecdotally, we know that visible, physical progress on a project like this builds excitement in the community and encourages people to support and contribute to the effort.”
Crouch said the foundation’s annual operating budget is $307,450. Most of that stems from $227,200 in the annual salaries of the three full-time foundation employees and three development consultants. Rent, utilities and other bills make up the remainder of the budget, according to Crouch.
To donate or find out more information about the National Mounted Warrior Museum, go to nmwfoundation.org.