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National Firearms Museum

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So, last week there was snow! This was good, but on the downside, this meant that everything was covered in snow, so I decided to head to a museum I haven’t visited before.

So, I went to the National Firearms Museum.

A little bit about the museum:

  • Location: in the NRA Headquarters at 11250 Waples Mill Road in Fairfax, VA.
  • Hours: 9:30-5. Open every day except Christmas Day.
  • Focus: History and technology of firearms, mainly focusing on the United States.
  • Amenities:¬†Gift Shop, Cafe, Firing Range, Library (by appointment only)
  • Fee: Free!

Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the museum, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures. The museum website does have pictures of all the display cases, so you can take a virtual tour.

I went into this museum with an open mind, even though I could be described as a “bit of a liberal.” The fact that it’s housed inside the headquarters of the NRA may give some people pause, but IMO there’s no reason to let that be a negative. Firearms are an important technology that helped shape this country (for good and for ill,) so having a museum dedicated to them seems appropriate.

There’s plenty of parking at the lot immediately behind the building, and there’s ample wheelchair/handicapped access. I was a little confused where the entrance was at first, but then I saw the signs and went up to the front door.

This is where it was a teensy bit intimidating: You have to ring a buzzer and state your business in order to be let in. Once that is done, though, you’re free to enter and peruse the Museum, gift shop, and cafe (which I didn’t visit, I apologize for incompleteness!) There are a number of informational pamphlets in the entrance area, including a gallery map and a listing of the current exhibits. Right now there’s a special exhibit on Theodore Roosevelt and his firearms and other artifacts.

The exhibits are well lit (mostly, there were a couple of sections in the first gallery where the lights weren’t working) and very detailed in labeling. There are lots of computer kiosks where you can peruse the information in depth as well. As far as staff goes, there were mainly security staff on duty, I didn’t see any informational type docents.

The Roosevelt exhibit was very interesting, there were a lot of his belongings on display, including uniforms he wore and a whole mock up of his study. There was also a great display on firearms in Hollywood, which had guns (both real and imaginary) from many films, ranging from Dirty Harry to Firefly. The one out-of-place thing there was a Star Wars lightsaber!

The gift shop was very well stocked, with a huge variety of books, mainly on guns, but also some survivalist type books, and a few memoirs of prominent NRA members. There are t-shirts, pins, and assorted knickknacks. I didn’t pick up anything, although they had pint glasses, which I was slightly tempted to get.

As I mentioned I skipped over the cafe, but for other eating options, there’s the nearby Fairfax Corner¬†shopping center, with several restaurants and other shopping places, and you can pair the two places together to make a day of it, or possibly pair this museum up with the Fairfax Museum.

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