National Museum of the Marine Corps honoring the past by growing into the future

The 210-foot-tall spire of the National Museum of the Marine Corps that is visible from Interstate 95 was inspired by Joe Rosenthal’s famous photo of six Marines raising the U.S. flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

The flag those Marines raised in 1945 is just one of many exhibits the museum uses to educate the public about the history, traditions and culture of the U.S. Marine Corps, said retired Gen. James Kessler, president and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, which operates the museum. 

The museum celebrates values such as honor, courage, commitment, selfless service and sacrifice, Kessler said. 

Exhibits show the history of the U.S Marine Corps from 1775 through the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. And in 2021, museum officials plan to open exhibits that will commemorate the corps’ history from 1976 through the present, Kessler said. 

“It’s critically important we recognize our history,” he added. “The young men and women who fought are anxious to see their periods of service recognized. We are really excited to get those populated with artifacts and art so they can see their service commemorated in an appropriate way.” 

By early December, the museum also will open an exhibit that will highlight the non-combat work Marines do, such as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and embassy security, Kessler said.

The museum is also working on an exhibit on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 

In 2017, the museum opened its theater, the Children’s Gallery and the Combat Art Gallery. 

The museum also hosts events such as weddings, funerals and retirement celebrations. 

“We think of this place as the cathedral of the Marine Corps, because it’s a special place for Marines and their families,” Kessler said. 

The museum is free to enter and has free parking. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except for Christmas Day. The museum also has two restaurants and outside walkways on its 120-acre property. 

“We encourage families to come and spend time with us and see the world through the eyes of a Marine,” Kessler said.

Since opening in 2006, 6 million people have visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Kessler said. Each year, 500,000 people visit the museum, including 52,000 school-aged children. The museum is a public-private partnership between the foundation and the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation promotes the values of the Marine Corps and aims to honor the service and sacrifice of Marines. 

The 230,000-square-foot museum is adjacent to the Marine Corps Base Quantico and is under the command of the Marine Corps University. The museum has a teacher-in-residence, who develops a K-12 curriculum to help children interact and learn from the museum. 

The museum has a large-screen theater to show documentaries, such as “We, The Marines.”

For more information, visit to learn how to donate, volunteer or buy an engraved brick.


Catch these temporary exhibits at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

A Tribute in Silver: Veteran Vision Project

The mission of this photo essay by Devin Mitchell is to provide a lens and a voice for U.S. military service members. The 38 photographs on display are drawn from the Arizona State University Veteran Vision Project, photographs Mitchell took of ASU veteran students, staff, alumni, faculty and community veterans.

Hollywood Leathernecks: Movie Posters Inspired by Marines

Movie posters provide a glimpse into how Marines have been portrayed in American movies from the 1920s to today. From 1918's "The Unbeliever" to "Guadalcanal Diary" to "Heartbreak Ridge" and "A Few Good Men," visitors will trace Hollywood's version of Marine Corps history through more than 30 posters.

Battles Won — Marine Corps Recruiting Command Sculptures by Kris Kuksi

With each piece, these sculptures of Marines represent various battles throughout the history of the Corps.  The emotions in the sculpted faces reflect the struggles they have lived through on the battlefield or during humanitarian relief missions and the personal challenges they endured to become Marines.

(1) comment


This museum is well worth a visit.

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