Telling the history of Army medicine, the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Museum has supported the Army's medical schools since 1920. Starting in 1862, the Office of the Surgeon General ordered the establishment of the Army Medical Museum, which is known today as the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM) in Silver Spring, Maryland. This museum was to be used as a research museum for military medicine, and collected a variety of medical specimens related to trauma and pathology, as well as equipment and technology that could be used to further medical advancements for the Army.
Then, in 1920, the Army realized that the Medical Department needed a secondary type of museum for training doctors in field craft, and so a second medical museum was stood up at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. This museum was attached to the Medical Field Service School (MFSS), and primarily focused on how medicine was applied in a field environment based on current equipment and technologies. Differing from the research origins of the NMHM, the school’s museum would became the primary location for all medical equipment, telling the history of Army medicine, while the NMHM remained the holder of all medical biological specimens and continues to assist in medical research today.
Finally, in 1946, the MFSS and its museum were transferred to Fort Sam Houston, TX, and in 1955 the museum officially became known as the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum. Over time, the Medical Field Service School has also changed names, becoming the AMEDD Center and School, and now the Medical Center of Excellence.
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After arriving at Fort Sam Houston, the museum was initially housed in several different locations, which were not optimal to meet the unique requirements of a historical museum. So, in 1978, a group of former Medical Department personnel formed the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum Foundation, Inc., as a 501 (c) (3) organization to raise funds for a new museum facility. Built with private donations raised by the Foundation, the present AMEDD Museum officially opened its doors in July 1989, and ownership was transferred to the U.S. Government.
Today the AMEDD Museum campus occupies 7 acres of grounds, including the main museum building, a restored hospital train car, a wheeled ambulance pergola, and a helicopter pergola. Additionally, a Medal of Honor Walk recognizes the 50 Medal of Honor recipients from the U.S. Army Medical Department, winding through the museum grounds and leading to a 250-seat outdoor amphitheater.
The galleries and outdoor exhibit areas tell the 200-plus year history of the U.S. Army Medical Department, in war and peace, emphasizing subjects such as battlefield medicine, the chain of patient evacuation, the evolution of the 8 different corps that compose the Army Medical Department, and the evolution of equipment, medical care and treatment from 1775 to the present day.
The AMEDD Museum Foundation, since completing the initial construction in 1989, has remained an active partner with the Army museum. Phase II construction, which added a second exhibit gallery and a workshop space was completed in 1998. While Phase III construction, consisting of a collections storage area, was completed in Fall of 2001. In addition to its construction projects, the AMEDD Museum Foundation also continues to support other museum activities and improvements.
U.S. Army Medical Department Museum Foundation
The U.S. Army Medical Department Museum Foundation has taken on an ambitious campaign in the expansion and modernization of the Museum’s exhibits and operations, to bring dramatic new opportunities for visitors to explore and connect with Army Medicine’s vibrant history and discover the value of Army Medicine now and for the future!