After being closed for two years, supposedly due to Covid (in fact, state and country restrictions were lifted about a year ago), the main National Firearms Museum has reopened. We’d written about concerns that the museum’s collections were being looted and sold off, and how a former curator who’d loaned guns to the museum was told they could not be found.
At last it is open, but the report is not good.
“There are a lot of missing guns and artifacts that used to be on display. So many great pieces. Where did they go? Some empty spots have the usual “Object Temporarily Removed” marker placed, but others – nope. In the last two years, maintenance of the galleries really didn’t happen and the dust on so many historic pieces is not good. Labels have fallen and are in the process of falling in many cases. Lighting has not been adjusted in several galleries – so there are very bright and very dim sections – not good for paper and textile artifacts in the brightness. Even from outside the glass, there were many guns that really needed cleaning and perhaps some conservation – including the premier collection of Gatling guns. Damn…”
“So how does the HQ building look? Not good. The outer tiles on both sides of the entry driveway have flaked off in a very unsightly manner. The underside of the overhang has many patched areas from leaks. Inside – I saw evidence of other leaks. Rust staining is seeping from window joints all over the building exterior. For those that may want to buy a souvenir – well – forget it. The NRA Store is not open.”
“Walking through the galleries, I found myself looking at a cannon – right in the middle of a junction of four pathways. No warning ropes even. In addition to impacting on ADA standards for the museum, it turns out the reason the cannon has been placed so awkwardly was to free up the Revolutionary War Gallery. Why? – so that food and drink can be served for special donor receptions, inside the museum. Professional museum folks are cringing by now and believe it or not, my old sign prohibiting food and drink inside was still posted outside. Bugs are attracted by food residues and move on to munch on museum objects quickly.”
The story mentions that there is no museum registrar. From the comments: “For those who don’t know, the Registrar is the individual responsible for the collection. They must at the stroke of the finger know where each piece is located (on display, on loan, in transit, in conservation). No registrar means that objects can disappear and there is no accounting for it. Be warned if you were considering donating any object to them. I wouldn’t.”