The U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum is an official Army museum located on Fort Jackson just outside of Columbia, SC. The museum’s 7,500+ square feet of exhibit space are dedicated to telling the story of how training in the U.S. Army has developed since 1917 when Fort Jackson, then known as Camp Jackson, first opened. Through the museum’s galleries visitors follow the schedule of basic combat training in 2011, learning along the way how the separate elements of training have evolved since WWI.
The museum is free and open to the public, Monday – Friday, 9AM – 4PM. On Family Day, the museum hours are extended from 9AM – 6PM to accommodate the friends and family members of basic combat training graduates at Fort Jackson.
The Basic Combat Training Museum is an element of the Center of Military History (CMH). The Center Of Military History, which reports to the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, is responsible for the appropriate use of history throughout the United States Army.
The Basic Combat Training Museum will collect, preserve, document, and interpret artifacts associated with the evolution of U.S. Army basic combat training from 1917 to the present in order to educate, enrich, and for the enjoyment of a broad and diverse audience, fostering communication between the Army, its Soldiers, family members, and visitors to Columbia and Fort Jackson.
The U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum was originally known as the Fort Jackson Museum when it opened its doors in 1974. It had a collection of 20 artifacts and was located in the old Post Exchange building on Jackson Blvd, across the street from Post Headquarters. From 1974 to 1985, the Fort Jackson Museum served as a historical warehouse of sorts, and it collected and displayed all types of weapons, uniforms, and militaria.
By 1985, the museum’s collections had lost all sense of scope, and the museum had to focus its mission to the history of Fort Jackson. The museum collections and gallery space were reorganized at that time, and new exhibits were developed that strove to tell the history of training at Fort Jackson. From 1985 to 2008, the museum quietly existed on the corner of Forney St and Jackson Blvd telling the story of how Fort Jackson opened its doors in WWI as Camp Jackson and quickly evolved into one of the largest Army training installations in the world.
In 2008, the museum rewrote its mission statement. The museum’s focus changed from the history of Fort Jackson to the history of basic combat training, and the name of the museum changed from the Fort Jackson Museum to the US Army Basic Combat Training Museum. Between 2009 and 2011, the museum went through a complete transformation: the museum collections were relocated, the museum was fully renovated, and a totally new storyline was developed in the museum’s galleries.
Today, the museum walks visitors through the experience of basic combat training, showing how the individual elements of training have evolved in the past century. While displaying the updates in equipment and training techniques that have transpired in the past 100 years, the museum simultaneously shows how the principles of basic combat training have remained the same from the turn of the twentieth century to today.