- Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 11:33
- Published on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 00:53
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After planning and fundraising for several years, the long- awaited Dahlgren Heritage Museum is preparing to hold its first events and begin its mission to tell the story of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren.
“We have a terrific story to tell, an incredible story of innovation,” said Ed Jones, President of the Dahlgren Heritage Foundation.
Dr. Robert Gates, Vice-President of the foundation and a former NSWC technical director, said that the foundation plans to hold an invitation-only event at Mary Washington’s Dahlgren campus on Oct. 16.
Gates said there would also be a public opening of the new museum, which will be located at the former Gateway Welcome Center building near the U.S. 301 Bridge, on Oct. 19. Both events will help celebrate NWSC’s 95th anniversary.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center opened at Dahlgren on October 16, 1918. The facility has a long and storied history and was instrumental in the development of many of America’s most important technological inventions including the Norden bombsight.
The Dahlgren Heritage Museum will tell the story of the many key projects at the Naval facility over the past 95 years, from the first guns fired on the Potomac test range in 1918, to the current research on the electromagnetic rail gun.
“We’re going to use charts and key artifacts to show the important work done at Dahlgren over the years,” said Dr. Gates. “From the propeller of the first unmanned vehicle, to a projectile from the Battleship USS IOWA, we will have a number of artifacts exhibited.”
Financial support for the first round of exhibits included a $50,000 grant from Dominion Resources. Other significant donors to the museum project have included the NSWC Federal Credit Union, Walmart, Lockheed Martin, the URS Corporation, the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region and Fredericksburg philanthropist Mary Jane O’Neil.
“This effort has been a collaborative and cooperative effort with the Navy,” said Jones. “With military budgets and government budgets being what they are today, we believe this kind of private/public partnership is the way to go for this kind of project.”
Dr. Gates said the public museum opening on the 19th will feature buses that every 30 minutes will take visitors on a tour of the NSWC base. “We are asking for $10 donations to help pay for the buses, and we are seeking volunteers to help with the museum.”
“You’ve heard about the guns and the computers. They’re a big part of the Dahlgren story. But there’s so much more to how this Navy base has impacted the community, the nation and the world. That’s what you will soon find in the Dahlgren Heritage Museum,” Jones said in a statement on the museum’s mission.
“We need a bigger megaphone to tell the Dahlgren story. In essence, that will be the mission of the Dahlgren Heritage Foundation in operating this museum.”