Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army Gerald O'Keefe speaks as (left to right) US Congressman Richard E. Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Superintendent James Woolsey, and National Park Service Chief Curator Stephanie Stephens look on. A special event at Springfield Armory National Historic Site marked the full transfer of the historic Benton Small Arms Collection from the US Army to the National Park Service at Springfield Armory NHS.
At a small and lightly covered ceremony
at Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Massachusets location, the U.S. Army officially turned over control of the Colonel Benton Small Arms collection
to the National Park Service of the United States. Previously the U.S. Army technically had control over the small arms in the museum (but not the physical historic site itself). This led to some tensions between the Park Service and the Department of Defense despite Congress itself authorizing the creation of the site 40 years ago. Fortunately for both the National Park Service and the U.S. Army, the DOD realized that the collection was much better left in with the professional historians who are passionate upon telling the story of Springfield Armory within the historical narrative of the United States. By finally transferring fully authority to the Park Service, this move ensures that this will continue.
From Mass Live-
As part of a formal agreement between the National Parks Service and the U.S. Army, ownership of the Benton Small Arms Collection at the armory was officially transferred on Monday from the Army’s Center of Museum History to National Parks Service.
In a brief ceremony in the armory’s main floor, U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, Mayor Domenic Sarno, and officials with the Army and National Parks Service lauded the move that they termed the most practical way to preserve the historic collection on behalf of the American public.
The Benton collection, which was established just after the Civil War, contains 6,613 artifacts and is one of the world’s largest firearms collection. It contains working and prototype firearms made in Springfield and from around the world. Much of it is curated on the upper floors of the Armory building, and away from public view.
It had been housed in Springfield dating back to the late 1860s
Superintendent James Woolsey said roughly 15 percent of it is on display for public viewing on the main floor.
The agreement does not change the Armory site, and tourists going there will not notice a change in the slightest. But it does resolve the issue of ownership that over the past 40 years had been described as somewhat hazy
“Our position is that (the collection) is the property of the American people, and we’ve been entrusted with caring for it,” Woolsey said. “And at varying times the Army had a differing opinion.”
Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army Gerald O’Keefe (left) and Springfield Armory NHS Superintendent James Woolsey marked the full transfer of the Benton Small Arms Collection from the US Army to the National Park Service at a ceremony on January 8, 2018.
Much thanks to Springfield Armory curator Alexander Mackenzie for his help in the making of this post.
US Army transfers Springfield Armory collection to National Park Service. (2018, January 8). US Army transfers Springfield Armory collection to National Park Service. Retrieved January 13, 2018, from http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/01/us_army_formally_transfers_own.html