ND Military Museum proposed for state Capitol grounds

Submitted Art This is a concept-only drawing of the amphitheater for the proposed North Dakota Military Museum in Bismarck.

BISMARCK – A museum devoted to North Dakota military members is in the initial phase of planning.

The North Dakota National Guard Foundation and the State Historical Society of North Dakota are engaged in a collaborative effort to promote construction of the N.D. Military Museum.

The site for the proposed museum would be an addition to the south side of the existing North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum on the Capitol grounds in Bismarck.

N.D. National Guard Lt. Col. (retired) Shirley Olgeirson, who is N.D. National Guard historian, said the Foundation has contracted with PACE Fundraising, Fargo, to conduct a feasibility study in May to determine the statewide “appetite” for a military museum and the propensity for raising private funds to support it.

“We’re making phone calls to the list of 40 people with a combination of legislators, donors, community leaders – people from across the state – to determine, No. 1, whether there’s an appetite for a museum and whether we may be able to raise the amount of money that we think we need for the museum,” Olgeirson said.

This concept-only drawing shows the proposed North Dakota Military Museum in Bismarck. The proposed museum would be an addition to the existing North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum on the Capitol grounds in Bismarck, located south and west of the east parking lot with an amphitheater in the southwest corner.

She said a shorter email survey will be going out to veterans all over the state, including veterans service officers, National Guard retirees and a number of other veterans. She said the emails will probably be going out in June.

Initially, a National Guard museum was being considered, Olgeirson said.

“That’s been on our dream sheet for many, many years,” she said. She said at one time there was a draft proposal to take to the Legislature but it was not submitted due to budgeting, etc.

Last legislative session Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrman, N.D. National Guard adjutant general, asked for fundraising authority for $10 million from private sources for a small National Guard museum.

Then the idea expanded into not just a National Guard museum but a North Dakota Military Museum because North Dakota has Air Force bases, a history related to all the services, especially from World War II, and more, Olgeirson said.

For the site for a N.D. Military Museum, the current proposal is to locate it on the Capitol grounds in Bismarck as a proposed up-to-60,000-square-foot addition to the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. The addition would include an amphitheater. The N.D. Military Museum would be operated by the State Historical Society of N.D., and the National Guard is helping raise the money.

The expanded idea comes with a bigger price tag for the facility, including matching the appearance of the other buildings at the site, Olgeirson said. She said they anticipate about $30 million will be needed for construction, architectural fees, a project officer and interior displays.

The National Guard and State Historical Society of N.D. will seek legislative approval during the upcoming 2022-23 session.


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