How to Make the Most of your Visit
to the West Point Military Museum
When you mention ‘West Point’ to someone you know, what do they automatically think about? The United States Military Academy is what most people say, right?!
But what if I told you that West Point, NY is also home to a the oldest Military Museum. This museum is not only FREE to the public but is also filled with a stunning collection of war artifacts and invaluable and, also, interesting information.
The museum’s collections of significant artifacts showcases history at its finest. Some shiny, others rusted, they show the true nature of war. The uniform replicas are brightly colored clothes that are worn by the strongest and the bravest fighters we will ever know.
Right outside the gates of the Academy and the West Point Visitors Center sits one of the Top Military Museums in the United States. It’s a striking building that sits on the grounds of one of the most monumental areas of the Hudson Valley.
Interested to see what’s inside? Let’s take a look and see what makes the West Point Visitors Center and the West Point Museum So Special.
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Let’s Visit the West Point Museum & West Point Visitors Center
What is the West Point Museum & West Point Visitors Center?
Frederic V Malek West Point Visitors Center
While the Museum was my focal point of visiting the area, I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty and abundance of information at the Frederic V Malek West Point Visitors Center.
The Visitors Center is an essential starting point when making your visit. It sits to the left of the museum and the grandeur of its front doors are welcoming.
The facility houses the hub for the West Point Tours, the Army West Point Gift Shop, as well as, the Cadet Life Experience Exhibit.
Upon entering the facility, you are immediately greeted by a wall-to-ceiling window showcasing the magnificent view of the majestic Hudson River. The views are stunning and mesmerizing!
I went on a rainy day and was still impressed by the view. So I can only imagine that it is magnificent on a sunny day. In other words, I really, really, liked it.
Two informational panels sit alongside the windows and offer details of the importance of the Hudson River to the area.
The Hudson River was not only instrumental as a passageway for merchants but also as a major player in times of battle. If the river could speak, I’m sure it’d have amazing stories to tell.
The Visitors Center is also home to the West Point Cadet Experience Exhibit (more info below) and the West Point Official Gift Shop. This is where you will find the front desk and information for the West Point Tours (see below)
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I came across the West Point Military Museum while searching for things to add to my list of free and fun things to do in the Hudson Valley. In researching the Museum, I found out that this special place houses all kinds of military artifacts and I was intrigued to pay a visit.
- My hubby is a Marine Veteran and this made the decision to take an afternoon to visit the West Point Military Museum an easy one. He is also a history geek, so this was a no-brainer.
“Since 1843, the mission of the West Point Museum has been to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret historically significant artifacts…”West Point Website
The Museum, located in Olmstead Hall, houses artifacts and equipment on 4 different levels. The galleries are filled to the brim with items dating back to the start of warfare in history.
Where in the Hudson Valley are they located?
West Point, NY is a small town located near the Town of Highland Falls, NY. These locations are right along the Hudson River.
Located in Orange County, NY, West Point is easily accessible by car.
The drive to West Point is an interesting one. As you drive there, you are first surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Hudson Highlands. This scenery showcases the beauty of the Hudson Valley. You then drive off of Route 9W and through the quaint little town of Highland Falls.
After passing some homes and businesses, you enter the area of West Point, NY.
How do you get there?
The Visitors Center and Museum are located on the main road that leads directly to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Be mindful of the signs, though, as Google maps initially had me turning off into another parking lot that did not seem part of the West Point Visitors Center & Museum.
Best Time to Visit:
The Museum & Visitors Center is a popular destination for all types of visitors.
Because of its popularity, it is often more crowded during warmer months and on the weekends.
During my visits to the area, I noticed people coming to visit the:
- Visitors Center & Museum ONLY (like me)
- Historic Academy Campus, Visitors Center & Museum
- School Groups on Tour of all the facilities
Museum Days and Hours:
Open Daily, Year-Round, from 10:30 am – 4:15 pm
Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Day
Is the West Point Military Museum & West Point Visitors Center Free?
The Visitors Center and Museum are both FREE to visit. There is a donation box at the museum and donations are greatly encouraged and appreciated.
Are there tours available?
Can I visit without a tour?
As far as I know and have researched, tours of the Museum are only available to school groups.
Both the Visitors Center and the Museum are Self-Guided for the General Public. You explore them on your own and at your own pace.
There are tours available of the Historic United States Military Academy at West Point Campus. Reservations are Strongly Encouraged, as this seems to be a popular attraction for visitors to the area.
Tours of Historic West Point and the United States Military Academy Campus are conducted daily and cost less than $20 per person (at the time of this posting).
There are (2) two tours to choose from:
- One and Half Hour (1.5 hr) History tour showcasing “the start of West Point in 1778 during the Revolutionary War to the modern times of the US Military Academy”
- Two Hour (2 hr) Cemetery Tour which expands the 1.5 hr tour and includes the West Point Cemetery and the Old Cadet Chapel.
Check the website for the schedule and information regarding ticket prices.
Places to See & Visit in Orange County, NY
Things to See in the Frederic V Malek West Point Visitors Center
The West Point Visitors Center is newly renovated and is a wonderful addition to the West Point visit.
Upon arrival, you are met with a floor to ceiling window that overlooks the Hudson River. This superb view is not only breathtaking but panels in front of the window offer information about this particular area of the Hudson Valley.
To the left of this Grand Lobby, you will find the Army West Point Gift Shop and an exhibit about Cadet Life and their Journey from their first day at the United States Military Academy up until their Graduation Day.
Interactive Cadet Life Experience Exhibit
This is an educational and candid look at a Cadet’s typical day and their course of action throughout their time at the Academy. It showcases the admission process, as well as, the cadet’s daily life.
Those interested and intrigued by cadet life, like me, will get a treat in the form of interactive exhibits, a full-scale cadet barracks room and exhibits showcasing the uniforms.
The photographs throughout the exhibit highlight the journey and make you are getting an insider’s look at the cadet’s life.
If that’s not enough, you will see a person transform before your eyes into a cadet in a holographic image within the exhibit. It is high tech and powerful to see.
Additionally, you can walk alongside those brave men and women at the conclusion of the exhibit as they walk towards their future as West Point Graduates.
Army West Point Gift Shop
The West Point Gift Shop is a popular place for those looking for authentic West Point Gear.
Things to See at the West Point Museum
The West Point Military Museum is the focal point of a visit to the area.
It is the Oldest Federal Museum in the country and is filled with an abundance of military artifacts. The museum boasts information dating back to primitive warfare.
My first stop: The History of Warfare Gallery.
While walking through the ‘History of Warfare Gallery’, you get a good sense of how warfare has evolved from its simplest form to the present-day Nuclear Warfare.
I would allow at least 2 hours to enjoy the exhibits and take in all the information.
The Galleries include:
- The History of Warfare Gallery – Located on the First Floor, this exhibit helps you follow the timeline of warfare from ancient times to the present day. The Gallery houses weapons and small-scale models.
- The West Point Gallery – Also located on the First Floor, this gallery showcases the importance of West Point during the Revolutionary War. It also shows how the Academy started.
- The History of the US Army Gallery – Located on the second floor. Additional displays are located here that offer information regarding the construction of the Panama Canal, the Gulf War, Desert Storm and much more…
- The American Wars Gallery – Also located on the second floor, this gallery offers visitors a chance to see the artifacts ranging from General George Washington’s pistols to the muddy jungle fatigues used in Vietnam.
- The Small Weapons Gallery – This Balcony-style gallery is located in the Basement level of the Museum. Here visitors can get up close viewing of all types of handheld weapons, such as clubs, swords, pistols, etc. The Gallery overlooks the Large Weapons Gallery.
- The Large Weapons Gallery – Located in the Sub-Basement of the Museum, this is probably the most impressive part of the museum. Here visitors have the luck of seeing cannons, tanks, and a First World War Tank.
The History Behind the Visitors Center
“The original Visitors Center was officially opened May 1, 1952, in the field artillery sheds at the south end of post — a site now occupied by the provost marshal’s office. The subsequent Visitors Center opened September 1, 1989” It has recently been renovated and adds to the splendor of the area.
The History Behind the Museum
According to their website:
“In its more than 150 years as a public museum the West Point Museum has been housed in several locations.” Although always on the United States Military Academy at West Point campus, it was moved from several locations until its permanent home was found.
Finally, in 1988, the museum was moved to its current location in Olmsted Hall at Pershing Center.”
The museum also offers the Cadets a place to learn about war artifacts that is important for their training.
Is the West Point Visitors Center & Museum Worth the Visit?
You all know that I would not recommend any place to you that I felt would not be worth a visit.
The West Point Visitors Center and West Point Military Museum is Absolutely Worth the Visit; not only because it is FREE, but because it houses the best collection of military history around.
Take an afternoon to visit the West Point Visitors Center and the West Point Military Museum.
I guarantee that you will be impressed by the information that is housed in these two buildings.
Now Go and Explore!
Contact Info & Address
Find out more info about the West Point Visitors Center and West Point Museum on their websites:
West Point Address:
2110 New South Post Road
West Point, NY 10996
Tips for Visiting the West Point Visitors Center & Museum:
- The Museum is multi-leveled, so it may be challenging to maneuver with older visitors and children. They have one elevator in the building.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to wander and explore both the Visitors Center & the Museum.
- The crowds tend to be bigger during the weekend, so a weekday visit may be best to avoid the crowds.
- Parking is always FREE
- Restrooms can be found at the West Point Visitors Center and at the West Point Museum.
- Tickets for tours of the grounds of Historic West Point and the Inited States Military Academy are sold online and at the Visitors Center.
- West Point Tours are conducted rain or shine
Things to Have/Take on your Visit to West Point
The West Point Museum has a strict bag policy: Bags cannot exceed 12″x6″x12″ in size.
I have and love this clear tote bag. I love how it fits so many things and is not heavy to carry. I have used it when visiting concert venues, such as Bethel Woods and have also used it for the gym.
MORE PLACES NEAR THE WEST POINT MUSEUM:
- A Visit to Storm King Art Center
- A Local’s Guide to Orange County, NY
- A Memorable Visit to the Orange County Arboretum
Until the Next Adventure….