National Museum of the Marine Corps: NYT Review

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

Triangle, VA: I may not be alone in my reaction to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, which is opening on Friday adjacent to the Marine base in Quantico, outside Washington. In making my way through its 118,000 square feet of exhibitions, timelines, sound-and-light shows, historical videos, battle accounts and fighting machines, I felt a little like an alien visitor getting to know another culture. I am not among those for whom these packaged experiences (executed with great skill in the current museum mode) evoke reminiscences and platoon allegiances. I know this world only from news reports, movies and histories.

But many who will visit this impressive complex — which will grow by another 80,000 square feet of exhibition, classroom and theater space in coming years — will be intimately familiar with its account of Marine culture, beginning with basic training so intense it is intended to strip the recruit of any hint of the individualism so deeply cherished on the outside.

That experience is evoked here by a model of a bus bearing hopeful young men to a Marine training camp. “Get off my bus,” the voice of a drill instructor would roar. “Stand on the yellow footprints on the pavement. Now!”

Those footprints are here, at the bus’s side. Nearby are two soundproof booths into which the museumgoer — having just begun this engaging, serpentine journey through recent Marine Corps history — seals himself to hear the disorienting shouts of the drill sergeant.

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