Officials and supporters gathered at the Dahlgren Heritage Museum – Virginia Gateway Center, in Dahlgren, Virginia, Wednesday evening April, 13th 2016, to celebrate the full time opening of the museum with its extensive history of 98 years of the U.S. Navy’s Dahlgren facility, on the Potomac River in King George County. The event also celebrated the restoration of the Virginia Tourism Center, which closed more ten years ago due to budgetary restraints. The attractions focus especially on the history of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, and include promotion of the rich history of the Northern Neck peninsula of Virginia and statewide attractions.
A Check for $10,000 was presented the Dahlgren Heritage Museum by Karen Hart, Chairwoman of the Northern Neck Tourism Commission, which will be used to help staff the museum – visitor center project in the promotion of regional history and tourism.
The event kicked off with a speech by Ed Jones, founder and Dahlgren Heritage Foundation Board President, followed up by comments and speeches from those who helped launch the museum and help advance tourism in the State of Virginia. Speakers included William J. Howell; Delegate 28th District and speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates; Virginia State Sen. Richard Stuart, Senator 28th District; U.S. Navy Cmdr. Chris Zayatz, Executive Officer, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division; Val Guffy, Va Board of Tourism, Corporate Director for Tourism Development; Chairwoman, Ruby Brabo, King George County Board of Supervisors; and Karen Hart, Lisa Hull and Jerry Davis, the representatives from the Northern Neck Tourism Commission, Northern Neck Planning District Commission, and Northern Neck Chesapeake Bay Region Partnership.
We are grateful for the support of all the state and regional officials and our supporters both local and nationwide. Many of our supporters lived and worked at the base developing some of the most significant and critical developments in defense technology, and many more are still working at NSWC Dahlgren Division on cutting edge new projects to defend the nation from ongoing threats to national and global security.
Please Join us for upcoming events
The grand opening also serves to kick off additional special events at the museum over the coming months to include guest speaker programs and educational activities for students. Currently scheduled programs include:
· “Build Your Own Railgun” for kids, Saturday, April 16, at 1 p.m. Participation is open to the first 12 children that register. Tickets are $10 each. Teams of two kids (age 8 and up) will work with an engineer from the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren to learn how the Navy’s electromagnetic railgun works while building a working table-top railgun. Other kids and adults are welcome to watch and learn, too!
· “First Thursday” speaker series featuring Dr. James Colvard, former technical director for the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren and deputy director of the Office of Personnel Management. Scheduled for May 5, June 2 and July 7, each session will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will address Dahlgren’s evolution and its expected contributions to the Navy of the future.
· “Life at Dahlgren in the 60s” guest panel, April 28 at 4:30 p.m. Special guests include Elizabeth Lyddane, daughter of Dahlgren technical director Russell Lyddane, and John Morton, commanding officer of the base from that era.
· “Dahlgren Before the Arrival of the Navy” presentation by Elizabeth Lee, president of the King George Historical Society, on Saturday, April 30, at 10 a.m.
All special programs are hosted at the museum and are free and open to the public.
The Dahlgren Museum originally opened its doors in October 2013, but limited staff and resources restricted the hours that the facility could be open to the public, typically just on Saturday afternoons.
Ed Jones, president of the Dahlgren Heritage Foundation, said that an expanded five-day-a-week schedule is the most important development to date in the museum’s five-year existence.
“This major upgrade will produce significant, tangible benefits to the surrounding counties throughout the Northern Neck,” Jones emphasizes. “We will now be in a better position to support tourism in the region in a way that respects our history and fuels local economic development. The mission of our museum is to tell the story, not only of the Naval Support Facility at Dahlgren, but also of the community that surrounds it.”
The Dahlgren Museum’s expanded operation is being made possible through growth in financial support that has come in the form of both private and corporate grants and through partnerships with local governments.
“Our intent is to turn the Dahlgren Museum – which was the previously long-closed former Gateway Welcome Center – into a better-than-ever support facility for the Northern Neck region, combining the advantages of a tourism center and a history/science museum,” says Jones.
“And we are squarely focused on the year 2018 as the Naval Support Facility at Dahlgren counts down to its centennial that year,” he adds. “We want to be a key contributor to that commemoration to continue to tell the story of this critically important military base and the community that surrounds it.”
The Dahlgren Heritage Foundation is chartered to establish and operate the Dahlgren Heritage Museum and to provide the long-term preservation efforts and educational activities associated with sharing the stories and interpreting the U.S. Navy's physical, technical, intellectual and social contributions to King George County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the nation.