A similar note was sent to local and state elected officials and a copy was provided for publication.
The purpose of this letter is to notify Maryland State and Local representatives of the impending closure of the U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground Museum at the end of this fiscal year!
There has been a museum present at APG since 1924 ,originally known as the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum. Many of the artifacts have been part of APG since its founding in 1917 and have historical significance far beyond the boundaries of the post. During 2009 the APG Garrison Command and the Installation Management Command, San Antonio, Texas had authorization of the U.S. Army Center of Military History to re-open the facility as the APG Museum in October 2013.
The museum facility was erected with private foundation funds in 1971 and has been a place for professional development, educational opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Exhibitions and interpretation of military culture for military, children and adults of all ages. Prior to BRAC, there were over 200,000 visitors annually to this Museum.
The original staff of three federal employees prior to BRAC has been reduced to one through attrition and is assigned to the APG Garrison. This last remaining position has now been designated for elimination at the end of the fiscal year due to and the funds used elsewhere. The APG Museum artifacts represent significant accomplishments of our country, Maryland and its citizens helping to win two World Wars, the Cold War and the present war against terrorism. APG is now the home of 80 organizations including: the Communication and Electronics Command, Research, Development and Engineering Command, the Army Test and Evaluation Command, the Army Research Laboratory which continues to provide the best equipment available to any soldier, sailor and airman of this great nation.
Recent decisions by the IMCOM, San Antonio Texas and the APG Garrison Command have now reversed course and stand in the way of the APG Museum re-opening. Some of the issues are:
• APG canceled the $47,000 renovation required to bring the facility up to current building code. This would be required regardless of who would occupy the building.
• CMH is the Army agency accountable for all historical property and after determining this lack of priority by the Commanders in retaining a museum at APG redirected funding (approximately $95,000) for fabricating and installing exhibit display furniture to other projects outside Maryland.
• CMH is now acquiring additional funds to move all remaining exhibits to locations outside of Maryland beginning this month. Movement of the remaining artifacts will be in excess of $1 million at a time when the military is within weeks of furloughing hundreds of thousands of employees.
We strongly believe there have been substandard and insufficient discussions among the tenants of APG to determine if any other organization would consider assuming or sharing museum operation costs. One example: the overhead that APG charges tenant organizations already for utilities, common services, etc. The total amount of funding is small (approximately $300,000 to complete re-opening actions and $127,000/year operating costs). Compared to the overall APG budget and redundant functions by multiple tenants that should be re-examined.
In addition there has been a serious lack of communication with local, state and federal representative to attempt to resolve the situation. It seems regrettable that CMH, APG Garrison/Installation, Installation Management Command (IMCOM) and other major tenants on APG cannot support funding for this facility that has played such an important part in professional development, education as well as its historical significance.
It is worth noting that CMH has is now acquiring funding to re-locate hundreds of artifacts out of Maryland (the World War II German Railway Cannon cost more than $175,000 alone to move to Fort Lee, Va.) yet will not support the APG, Maryland Museum. I am sure the Army leadership has good intentions but in this case it has severe negative implications for Maryland in tourist dollars, historical research and training opportunities that has been overlooked.
In closing, there is still a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (Foundation) incorporated in Maryland in 1991 to support the museum outside the staffing and basic operating funds provided by the Army. That Foundation stands ready to use its funds in support of the museum and its programs. The Foundation has a substantial sum accumulated and local membership to support an initiation to raise additional funding to support the museum when it reopens.
On behalf of Friends of the APG MuseumCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun