The National Veterans Memorial and Museum is the only museum in the nation dedicated to honoring all the courageous men and women who answered the call of our country. This 53,000 square-foot cultural institution stands as a place of inspiration for all visitors to come together to hear the stories and honor the service of our veterans at the New Home of the Brave.
Veteran heroes such as George Washington and John F. Kennedy are well documented on the national stage. But there are others – nearly countless in number – whose military experiences are known only to family, friends and descendants. The National Veterans Memorial and Museum preserves and shares these stories so that their sacrifices for freedom are remembered.
A Legacy Lives On
The National Veterans Memorial and Museum began with a vision from the late Senator John Glenn (1921-2016), Colonel, USMC (Retired), who understood the pressing need to carefully preserve not only the names, dates and battles, but the intimate memories, personal belongings and painful losses of our nation’s veterans. His vision is now the guiding principle for the institution he inspired. These four foundational pillars are to:
- Honor Americans’ contributions to our country though military service
- Connect civilians with veterans and their experience
- Inspire visitors to serve their community and nation as active engaged citizens
- Educate schoolchildren about the history and value of service
An Architectural Icon
From first sight, the building impresses upon visitors the importance what lies within. The architect designed an iconic concrete arch structure, constructed from 28 million pounds of concrete, with a glass curtainwall system and spiral processional ascending to a rooftop sanctuary. Seeming to rise organically from the ground, the building itself is a symbol of our nation’s veterans and how their strength emanates from within. Even before opening, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum received international recognition for its innovative design and was named one of the most anticipated buildings of 2018 by Architectural Digest.
Outside the museum lies a 2.5 acre Memorial Grove, designed for contemplation and reflection before visitors return to their everyday lives. A grove of trees, water feature, memorial wall, and Ring of Honor together create a cohesive space for remembrance, inspiration, and the recognition of service. A grove of American Elms, a tree which has sheltered veterans and their families since colonial times, provides a place for rest and relaxation. The limestone wall references regional geology and symbolizes our strength as a Nation as best exemplified by the teamwork of our armed forces and the motto, E pluribus unum, “From many, one.” The pool and cascades highlight water considered an elemental source of life and healing by all peoples throughout time. Native plantings provide seasonal interest and reference the passing of time and the cycles of renewal.
Stories of Service
Exhibit designer: Ralph Appelbaum Associates
Inside the museum, visitors embark on a narrative journey, following exhibitions that focus on the people – the soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Coastguardsman and their families – from answering the call to life after military service. Individual stories and shared experiences are illustrated through personal artifacts, quotes, letters, imagery and powerful films of veterans telling their unique story in their own words.
These exhibitions connect historical events to current concerns and transformative military service to the broader idea of community service. The aim: to stimulate an ongoing dialogue to strengthen understanding and respect between civilians and veterans.
Visitors can also leave their own story behind; the Share Your Story space features a story booth where visitors can answer a series of prompts and questions to create a short video of their own piece of history. The hope is that these stories can be considered for the next generation of featured stories in the Museum.
Scioto Peninsula: Re-Imagined
Master Developer: Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC)
NVMM is the keystone piece to a budding new cultural district as part of a multi-million dollar redevelopment of the 56-acre Scioto Peninsula in Downtown Columbus. This effort will transform the peninsula into an active mixed-use neighborhood and elevate Columbus as a city with world class arts and culture amenities. Spearheaded by CDDC, additional steps have already been taken to bring about this revitalization, including the addition the American Museum of Natural History’s first-ever satellite location at COSI (Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry) and the creation of Dorrian Green, a first-rate greenspace sitting on top of a new underground parking garage.
A Unique Philanthropic Effort
Most fundraising projects are fueled by a group close to a cause – this is a unique exception. While many veterans have played a critical role in the project’s bottom line, the largest private investors – Les and Abigail Wexner – committed to the project because of their strong commitment to the community. They are investing in the cultural credibility of the region, and in the importance of not only supporting our veterans, but educating the public on their stories and service. To date, more than $82 million has been raised through private philanthropy and public partnerships to fully fund the project.