ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS (June 27, 2023) — The Rock Island Arsenal Museum will re-open Thursday, June 29, 2023, after being closed for more than three years. There will be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30AM to mark the occasion and to celebrate the return of the installation and greater Quad-Cities landmark of military history and heritage of the region. The museum originally opened on July 4, 1905, and is the second-oldest museum in the US Army.
The museum, which was scheduled to close for renovations in March 2021, closed a year earlier due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“The museum hasn’t been renovated in more than eighty years, and we were looking to re-imagine and interpretate the story we are telling to be much more Rock Island Arsenal centric and Army organic industrial-base centric to better reflect our audience,” said Patrick Allie, museum director. “This museum is going to serve as the front porch for the installation, to the larger Quad Cities community, and to visitors by telling the story of what all of us do on a daily basis.”
As the largest island in the upper Mississippi River, the Arsenal is located at the only point where the river flows East to West. That very place — the upper Mississippi River — is where the museum’s storytelling begins, with the mapping of the region by Zebulon Pike. From the initial founding of Fort Armstrong on the Rock Island Arsenal to the Blackhawk War, this will be the first comprehensive attempt to capture, display, and interpret the Arsenal’s history by telling the story though the units, both current and former, that call the island home.
Through the early centuries of the Rock Island Arsenal to the present day, the museum has touched on the important people, weapons, and stories that took place in the community. One of the museum’s major efforts is to highlight the sheer amount the Arsenal has produced and distributed to the service over the years. The RIA has supplied and tested armaments and equipment for Soldiers during every conflict from the Spanish-American War to today. Through its displays and interactive learning exhibits, guests will be able to see and understand the large and important role RIA has played throughout the history of the US Army and the role it continues to play.
The RIA Museum, like all Army museums, falls under the Army Museum Enterprise (AME) — an integral part of the US Army Center of Military History, which oversees thirty museum activities in the US, Germany, and South Korea. The AME manages the Army's historic collections, consisting of nearly 550,000 artifacts, of which the RIA Museum manages approximately 7,000, to tell the story of the Rock Island Arsenal.
The museum is open 10AM-4PM, Tuesdays–Saturdays, starting Thursday, June 29.
Attendees ages eighteen and older must show a US photo ID at the Moline gate since the Island is a working military facility. Visitors will need to get a visitor pass at the Visitor Control Center. Find more information here: home.army.mil/ria/index.php/my-fort/all-services/gate-information.
While on the island, take the opportunity to visit these additional attractions: The Mississippi River Visitor Center at Lock and Dam 15, the National and Confederate Cemeteries, Memorial Park, Colonel Davenport House, and outdoor tank and artillery displays.
The US Government originally purchased Arsenal Island in 1804. The Rock Island Arsenal was established by an act of Congress in 1862.