The 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Museum is located on Marshall Road, just north of the Freedom Crossing shopping complex. It is an old Post Exchange building, with 50,000 square feet of exhibit space. The museum includes the combined arms heritage park in front and many exhibits about the history of Fort Bliss and the 1st Armored Division inside. The museum also includes a 180-seat theater, 400-seat ceremonial area, and a reception room available for use. The museum preserves and exhibits artifacts pertaining to the 1st Armored Division's 76-year history through World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts in the Balkan states, Operation Desert Storm, and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The museum also presents the 167-year history of Fort Bliss, including its six locations in and around El Paso, the post's role in the exploration and mapping of the western states, the Civil War in the Southwest, the various American Indian conflicts, the Mexican Revolution and World Wars I and II, and the role of the post in Army air defense artillery during and after World War II.
Visiting the Museum
Doors lock 15 minutes prior to closing. Closed on Sunday, Monday, & Federal Holidays.
Visitors without a valid Department of Defense identification card must have a visitors pass in order to come onto Fort Bliss. Visitors can get a pass at one of the visitor control centers located at Buffalo Soldier Gate on Airway Boulevard or Chaffee Gate off Spur Highway 601.
Old Ironsides Gate off Spur Highway 675 is now closed.
To obtain a pass all adult visitors must have a valid photo ID such as a state driver's license, passport, or other government-issued ID. Post visitor passes are good for up to 30 days and pass holders may enter any open gate that they wish."
The museum exhibits include these basic themes:
The Six Locations of Fort Bliss – The Army established the first Post Opposite El Paso in September, 1849. This exhibit documents the role of the US Army in supporting the border survey after the Mexican-American War, protecting wagon trains and settlements from Indian depredations, the Civil War in the Southwest, and the relationship with the El Paso community as it grew. The post was primarily an infantry post during this period.
The Mexican Revolution – With the onset of the revolution in Mexico in 1910, President William Howard Taft sent 11,000 cavalry troops to the US border with Mexico. Fort Bliss very quickly transitioned to a cavalry post. This culminated with the Punitive Expedition into Mexico from 1916-17, and the organization of the 1st Cavalry Division on Fort Bliss in 1921.
World War II and the Cold War – Fort Bliss became an antiaircraft training post as World War II progressed, and this resulted in the post becoming the Army's Air Defense Artillery training post from 1946 until 2009. The post went through a huge expansion during this period, owing to the requirement for large safety zones to fire air defense missiles. The gallery also includes the story of Operation Paperclip, the Army Ordnance project to develop and test the German V2 rocket on Fort Bliss and White Sands Proving Ground.
1st Armored Division – This gallery focuses on the development of mechanized warfare and the organization of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky in 1940. The gallery traces the service of the Division in North Africa and Italy during World War II, its service in the Cold War, the service of Divisional units in the Vietnam War, the deployment of the Division to Bosnia and Kosovo during the Balkan crisis, the Division's service in Operation Desert Storm, and the Division's performance during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
A salient feature of the museum is the Combined Arms Heritage Park in front. It showcases tanks and armored vehicles from the post's and Division's history, and one of the two surviving German V2 rockets from Operation Paperclip on Fort Bliss from 1945-1953.