United States Marshals Museum Dedication Fall 2019

Arial view of United States Marshals Museum
Arial view of United States Marshals Museum

Once open, the United States Marshals Museum will be an innovative museum designed to educate, inform and inspire visitors and to give our U.S. Marshals the honor they deserve. Though the museum and Hall of Honor were dedicated in September 2019, the museum is not yet open to the public. It is however, available to private tours and events upon request.

The United States Marshals Museum has found its natural home in Fort Smith. Established in 1817, the town was the gateway to the original Wild West. It was from here that outlaws would flee into Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) to avoid local lawmen. As the only law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in Indian Territory, Deputy U.S. Marshals were tasked with pursuing the fugitives who – unless killed in a shootout during capture – were brought back to face trial in the Federal Courtroom of Judge Isaac C. Parker.

USMM Frontier Marshals group photo
USMM Frontier Marshals group photo

One of the most famous Deputy U.S. Marshals was Bass Reeves. He was credited with capturing upwards of 3,000 outlaws during his career. The inherent danger of this line of work is why there are more Deputy U.S. Marshals buried in the Fort Smith area than anywhere else.

It's for these reasons and others that in 2007, when the time came to select a site for the museum, Fort Smith was chosen. While the project honors the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the country, it is not federally funded. This project has required a massive, 10-plus year effort to raise 50 million dollars in funding to break ground and begin construction on the 53,000 square-foot facility set on the bank of the Arkansas River. Once fund raising efforts are completed, the planned exhibits will engage and educate visitors.

Museum Exhibit at U.S. Marshals Museum, Fort Smith
Museum Exhibit at U.S. Marshals Museum, Fort Smith

The unique star-shaped exterior will symbolize the badge worn by U.S. Marshals. Inside, five immersive galleries will embrace the impressive scope and reach of the U.S. Marshals Service. The first, Defining Marshals, will explain the role of the U.S. Marshals as visitors explore a timeline of its illustrious history.

From there, faded moments from history will flare to life as marshals from different eras share stories in The Campfire: Stories under the Stars gallery.

The Campfire: Stories under the Stars Gallery, U.S. Marshals Museum
The Campfire: Stories under the Stars Gallery, U.S. Marshals Museum

In the third gallery, Frontier Marshals, fans of the Old West can learn about the challenges Deputy U.S. Marshals faced as they became the symbol of law and order in America's western frontier. A Changing Nation will examine the role marshals have played during struggles for civil rights and other pivotal moments in American History. The fifth gallery, Modern Marshals, will be an interactive exhibit that showcases the modernized tactics and technologies that U.S. Marshals use today.

"Modern Marshals" interactive exhibit at U.S. Marshals Museum
"Modern Marshals" interactive exhibit at U.S. Marshals Museum

The museum will also include a Hall of Honor, learning center, restaurant, conference rooms, retail space, and a large lobby for gathering. It will be an innovative museum designed to educate, inform and inspire visitors and to give our U.S. Marshals the honor they deserve.