More on the National Firearms Museum

Six months ago we posted on reports that the firearms collections at the NRA National Firearms Museum (which are worth millions) may be being secretly sold off to raise cash. What was very public, the best firearms museum in the country, maybe in the world, had been sealed off, kept secret even from the staff who ran it.

Here’s an update on that info (go to post #7). The former curator of the collection writes that he’d made some “personal loans” of guns to the museum. “To cut to the chase – several of my personal loan items could not be found, despite having been securely stored in the museum conservation lab and in exhibit cases.” NRA finally paid him their value. He goes on: “Here’s the part that should make your blood boil. At one point in the retrieval of my items, I got a call from an auction house that I knew. They had been unable to reach the Museum “essential staffer” and wanted to know what the status was on a shipment of museum guns going off to auction. When I went on furlough – we had no such shipment planned. Any deaccessioning of the collection would have to be conducted through established policy and approved by the NRA Gun Collectors Committee. And also ask yourself – where would this money be going?”

Even more information has emerged recently.

The museum has a Facebook page, and in March, 2020 it said the museum is “temporarily” closed. Today it says the museum “will be CLOSED until further notice.” You can see members asking when it will re-open. Most members get no answer. One is told “We will reopen as soon as Covid restrictions are lifted. Thanks for your interest.”

Later (about 7 months ago) someone points out “All the area Smithsonians have announced they are opening in May. Any update here?” NRA answer: “as soon as VA (Virginia) goes 100% we will reopen.” Later you see questions, “What in the world is going on? It can’t still be the covid deal, can it? They haven’t even had to wear masks in school this year.” No reply to that question.

Ironically, if you scroll down, there are postings about gun shows opening in Virginia (dated last April and July) at which the Museum be exhibiting guns, and a recent posting that the NRA National Gun Collectors Show in Las Vegas will open January 21-23.

Here’s an article: “It’s Official: Virginia Covid-19 Restrictions Are Lifted.” It’s dated last May, 8 months ago.

No, it’s not the Covid. There is some other reason why no one, not even its own long-term staff, are allowed into the museum.

4 thoughts on “More on the National Firearms Museum

  1. In case someone does not jump to that link that you offered, here’s a copy & paste of what’s there. On Oct. 7, 2021, someone posted the following, saying that he was quoting from another forum:

    (begin quote)
    Folks: I am the above referenced museum curator for the NRA National Firearms Museum. Suffice it to say that it is very bad at NRA HQ. I believe that the museum has been allowed to remain closed, now for more than a year and a half, due to major problems. I’ll give you folks some background – feel free to skip to the end if you wish.

    When I was furloughed in early 2020, the understanding given to the many dozens of staff displaced was that it was a temporary situation and that when COVID rules in the state of Virginia eased – we would all return to work. Bear in mind that the staff furloughed were all over the HQ and were responsible for many daily functions. Our mailroom, for example, was reduced to two staff and NRA departments now have to go down to it to retrieve their mail daily. Certain divisions, like the museum, had only one “essential” staffer allowed to remain. For some reason I was not selected as the essential staff despite having seniority and wider ranging program responsibilities. The individual selected was only responsible for the NRA Gun Collecting program and had little experience with the collection record database. Our Registrar and our FFL person were also furloughed.

    Initially the furloughed museum staff had been permitted to use the NRA email system and a VPN (virtual private network) was established to allow me and the Registrar to continue inputting and updating collection records. Then that came to an abrupt halt, as NRA realized that furloughed staff were not allowed by law to continue working – even on a volunteer basis. Now skip forward a year.

    Furloughed Museum staff had received little to no information on NRA matters and the NY bankruptcy trial was in full swing. Only glowing pieces in the NRA magazines stating – “all was well” but no mention of staff return. I had completed 35 years with the Association by that point and was nearing early retirement age, so I decided to retire. When furloughed, we had all received notice that we would need to contact NRA Security to return to our offices to retrieve personal belongings. So I did and was told – no problem, come by on this date and time.

    Then things went strange. I was told by the “essential” museum staffer that no – I could not come into my office and I would have to provide a list of what material and personal belongings I had. Fortunately – all my personal loans had been logged through our Director, who had retired prior to COVID. The loan contract files were in the Registrar’s office and I explained what to do. On the appointed day, I showed up and was directed to the Multi-Purpose Room (in the other tower of the complex) and some of my personal loans were there. Not everything, by any means. I signed for what was there and asked to return in a month for the remainder. I and the Registrar also offered to come in to help locate the missing items.

    Fortunately, I had both the Registrar and the FFL person to assist in packing up these loans in both of my cars. The Human Resources Director had intervened and I was allowed to go into the second floor offices and pack up my personal belongings inside my office. If I had been forced to list all my books – it would have been another volume.

    At the conclusion of this, I wanted to get a farewell photograph with my Registrar and FFL person in the museum galleries downstairs. Nope – denied by the essential staffer.

    I knew that there had been a “VIP” tour that had gone through the galleries recently and pointed that fact out. No matter.

    To cut to the chase – several of my personal loan items could not be found, despite having been securly stored in the museum conservation lab and in exhibit cases. It took three more months to get a check from NRA for these missing items. Why so long? The essential staffer refused to answer emails or telephone calls for a three week period and I finally went up the food chain. At that point, I also noted that the essential staffer had not been answering Facebook inquiries (I still had access to the Museum Facebook page). That evidently didn’t sit well with the essential staffer as I was removed from the Facebook page and he also unfriended me on Facebook. Oh well. Folks further up the line also slow-tracked my reimbursement and I had to finally contact the NRA Secretary to get any response.

    So if you’ve managed to read through all this. Here’s the part that should make your blood boil. At one point in the retrieval of my items, I got a call from an auction house that I knew. They had been unable to reach the Museum essential staffer and wanted to know what the status was on a shipment of museum guns going off to auction. When I went on furlough – we had no such shipment planned. Any deaccessioning of the collection would have to be conducted through established policy and approved by the NRA Gun Collectors Committee. And also ask yourself – where would this money be going?

    So have museum guns been removed from the collection? Don’t really know. All I know is that to this date – I have not been permitted inside the museum galleries. Those of you that have met me or know of me will recall that I have a near photographic memory for the collection and I really didn’t need the collection database to identify or locate any collection item. I fear the reason that neither I or the Registrar were allowed into the galleries was that we would immediately recognize that part of the collection was gone.

    The NRA National Firearms Museum remains closed even today, despite just about every other Virginia museum reopening. I sent the essential staffer and his superior information on reopening I had gleaned from visiting other museum, but no response. If you read the Facebook questions being posed on the Museum’s page – you’ll see a lot of other folks are puzzled why the doors are still shut.

    The HQ roof is leaking badly and the NRA legal library on the 6th floor had to be moved to a small building next door. The lower level where the vaults are located has flooded in the past. I have no idea how the collection is faring. In the past, I had a team of volunteers that regularly mornings would go through cases waxing firearms and checking for any problems. When we didn’t work in the galleries, we worked down in the vaults. Sadly I recently got a call from a museum lender that had asked from a historic piece back.

    He told me his pistol was rusted. That would not have happened when I was on watch. There are millions of dollars of guns just in the galleries.

    I am a 4th Generation NRA Life member and was proud to work for the Association for 35 years. Now, not so much…
    (end quote

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  2. Not just the NRA museum but I would never under any circumstances give or loan any item to a museum. Here in Nassau County, NY there have been several cases of items disappearing from the county museum. Plus there are many other museums that have no problem with selling off items thinking they can find a better use for the money. I would sooner auction my things off and give a museum and equal chance to bid on something than to loan it to them and have it stolen.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

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