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An M-47 Patton tank is displayed at the 6th Cavalry Museum in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

The 6th Cavalry Museum, a place dedicated to the history and remembrance of the Fighting Sixth Cavalry, is now looking to the future.

Executive Director Chris McKeever is working to expand the nearly 40-year-old museum and update its share of local military history.

"We want to redo our exhibits and make them more professional looking and change them up so that when people come in they're seeing different things that they haven't seen over the past 15 years," she said. "And we want to have more people actually come out and visit the museum."

The Fort Oglethorpe landmark provides visitors with exhibits filled with memorabilia and relics from World War II as it relates to the area, including those that showcase the history of the Fighting Sixth, the Women's Army Corps, a prisoners of war camp and Black non-commissioned officers, all of whom were stationed at the historic Army post the museum now flanks.

To further the future of the museum, McKeever recently applied for and received a two-year capacity-building grant from Chattanooga's Lyndhurst Foundation. This has allowed the museum to work with Community Consultants LLC for help in applying for additional funding and resources through grant writing as well as identifying new partners to help fund the operation.

"There isn't a museum in this country where enough people come through the door to give the admission to cover the operation," McKeever said. "For us to be successful just based on what our admission is, we'd have to have 30,000 people come through our door each year, and we don't get near that many.

"Writing grants and bringing new partners to the museum keeps our doors open and keeps us able to share history, which is our mission."

Currently, the museum, with the help of a volunteer, is working to restore an M47 Patton tank and is also working on an exhibit funded by an African American Civil Rights Grant to showcase the only Black Women's Army Corps battalion to serve in Europe during World War II. The battalion was stationed in Fort Oglethorpe before shipping out overseas.

In addition to physical upgrades, the museum is offering a variety of new programming to keep visitors — whether in-person or online — engaged, said McKeever.

While school field trips to the museum have been largely canceled due to COVID-19, a Georgia Humanities Grant is helping to provide new virtual experiences for students, also featuring the women that will be showcased in the new physical exhibit.

"You'll be seeing virtual tours of relics and artifacts that are here and different things like that," McKeever explained. "We are working hard to be very accessible whether you're able to come through the doors or be able to go on our Facebook and our website and learn about history our area has to offer."

McKeever said she's excited to see what the future holds, but one thing will always remain the same. "We just want to share the history, not just of the Cavalry but our whole area, because the military history is, for this region, is very important, and we tell many stories," she said.

The museum is located at 6 Barnhardt Circle in Fort Oglethorpe and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free for current and former 6th Cavalry members, $5 for adults and $3 for students.

For more information, visit 6thcavalrymuseum.org or call 706-861-2860.

Contact Tierra Hayes at tierrathejournalist@gmail.com.

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