Housed at the National Guard Headquarters, the museum is rich with history from frontier life to current day militia.
Although the State Capital is where many go to gain insight into Missouri’s past, the opportunity to view history through another lens is available at the Museum of Missouri Military History. And, it is one not to be missed. The importance of military cannot be understated, and here, many crucial events are illustrated through a variety of detailed displays. Located at National Guard Headquarters just south of Jefferson City, the museum has recently undergone a transformation that has yielded exciting results.
Formerly, the museum was housed in one of the oldest buildings from the original Algoa property dating back to the early 1930s. As collections grew and storage became more difficult, the museum was moved to the mechanical school where the National Guard Resiliency Center is also housed.
Charles Machon, museum director, says, “Our new museum has exceeded my wildest expectations. Not long ago the building was a grease-stained maintenance shop. It’s been quite a successful transformation.”
Because of his background in history and vast understanding of storing and displaying artifacts, Machon says, “I could not help but think of all the obstacles we initially faced to make this a suitable location. Yet, those obstacles were overcome and the end result includes refinished floors, climate control systems, display cases, interior walls, display plinths and platforms for large exhibits. We are more than pleased.”
The expanded space opened for public access in December 2014 and has since had more than 6,500 visitors. In addition to Machon’s expertise and passion, dedication and support from Adjutant General Steve Danner, other National Guard members, volunteers and patrons have produced results enjoyed by visitors from at least thirty states and twelve countries.
“Preserving history and heritage is a priority for General Danner, whose leadership has made the expansion of the Museum of Missouri Military History a reality,” Machon says.
Upon arriving at the museum, visitors encounter several static displays including the Sherman M4A3E8 tank, more commonly known as the EZ-8, and various aircrafts including the most recent addition to the museum, an F-4E Phantom II (previously displayed at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis). Arranged in chronological order, more than two centuries of military history is on display. A Vietnam-era Huey Helicopter is housed there, which attests to the enormity of its role in military history. Cannons, vehicles and dioramas provide a diverse and exceptional perspective of Missouri’s military.
The museum showcases artifacts that have been donated by veterans and their families, including a World War I Marine “Devil Dog” uniform worn by William Steele, a complete Vietnam-era Chaplain’s Kit used by Brock Watson, Air Guard memorabilia and unique action photos of bombing missions by Major General Frank Crooks. The largest collection is from Major Joseph Koch, which features more than one thousand pieces including uniforms, personal effects, military manuals and personal book collections.
The State of Missouri abounds with history from every area of the American experience. From frontier life to urban development, the state has played a large role in American History. Through discovery by Lewis and Clark, division by the American Civil War and the home of several infamous military leaders, Missouri offers both locals and visitors the experience of history in various forms.
The Museum of Missouri Military History is more than a local attraction. It is a testament to the endeavors that the military has faced and serves to provide lessons for future generations.
Visitors can explore the museum Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of state and federal holidays. Groups of 10 or more are encouraged to contact the museum at least two weeks in advance to schedule tours, and all are welcome to reach out to the museum director, Charles Machon, for further inquiries.