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Upgrades enhance visitor experience at AMEDD Museum

By David DeKunder | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Nov. 9, 2017


The U.S. Army Medical Department, or AMEDD, Museum at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston is upgrading its exhibit area and some of its facilities to enhance the museum experience for its visitors.

Museum upgrades include better lighting, a renovated activity room, a new sound system in the auditorium and new exhibit cases for holding objects and artifacts.

George Wunderlich, AMEDD Museum director, said the cost for the museum upgrades is $500,000, which is being covered through donations from the AMEDD Museum Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit organization that supports the museum and its programs that cover the 200-year plus history of AMEDD, from its founding in 1775 to the present.

The museum has completed part of the upgrades, including switching all 130 exhibit lights from halogen to LED, renovating and transforming the activity room into the AMEDD Regimental Room and installing the new sound system in the auditorium.

Wunderlich said the new exhibit lights provide a clearer view of artifacts and historical objects for museum visitors.

“The writing on the panels shows up better and you can see the artifacts better,” he said. “Before people were squinting their eyes. They certainly couldn’t read and see and get a good feel of what was in the exhibit case.”

In addition, 200-plus halogen ceiling lights in the museum are being switched to LED, a project that is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

By switching to LED lights, Wunderlich said the museum will save thousands of dollars a year in both electricity and maintenance costs since LED lights last longer than halogen. LED lights run for approximately 50,000 hours compared to halogen, which last between 2,500 to 3,000 hours, requiring halogen lights to be constantly replaced.

The new LED lights will help preserve artifacts better because they contain no ultraviolet rays, which are in halogen lights, Wunderlich said. Ultraviolet rays are harmful to some artifacts and displays, including paper and certain dyes in clothing.

Wunderlich said certain exhibits in the museum were kept dark because turning on halogen lights would have harmed both the objects and artifacts. With the replacement LED lights, those exhibits can be lighted up without any potential harm to artifacts and objects.

“By having no ultraviolet light, we are going to be able to more effectively preserve these artifacts for future generations,” he said.

Starting in January, the museum will install new exhibit cases in the exhibit area. The new cases, which are custom made, replace ones that have been in use since the 1960s and 1970s. Putting in the new exhibit cases will take 12 months to complete.

The new exhibit cases include an LED lighting system that is being designed and worked on by Christopher Goodrow and Angelique Kelley, museum specialists for the AMEDD Center of History and Heritage located in the museum.

“We are designing a lighting system to meet museum standards and doing it in-house,” Wunderlich said. “That is a great cost savings for the Army and best possible lighting solution for us.”

Wunderlich said the newer exhibit cases will enable the museum to showcase more of its artifacts from its collection, covering every era of AMEDD’s history from the Revolutionary War to the present.

“That’s going to be an incredible transformation for this place,” he said, commenting on the installation of the new exhibit cases.

The AMEDD Regimental Room, located off the museum foyer, is used for various activities including change of command and retirement ceremonies, receptions and training demonstrations for students in the U.S. Army Medical Department Center & School.

The transformed AMEDD Regimental Room includes original photos and images from every era and part of AMEDD history, including those of combat medics in action during World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraqi and Afghanistan.

“We have dug up pretty cool images,” Wunderlich said. “We have prints, posters and photos from our collection, a lot of which have either not been presented for years or have not been presented before.”

To make it more user friendly, the kitchen in the AMEDD Regimental Room has been reorganized using the 5S system, a Japanese workplace system that emphasizes efficiency by placing and organizing utensils, plates and cups which can be found and utilized easily.

Wunderlich said the setup of the AMEDD Regimental Room is meant to honor the mission and history of AMEDD and the contributions of its members.

“We have tried to make it a place where people can feel the heritage of the U.S. Army Medical Department,” he said. “It should be a place where we remember the importance of what we do every day.”

The upgraded sound system in the museum’s auditorium includes an amplifier and jack contained in the podium that will allow for set ups for a microphone and audio and music presentations.

Since the improvements in the museum are being done in-house by staff and 20 plus volunteers, utilizing materials already at the museum, Wunderlich said costs are being kept at a minimum.

The AMEDD Museum, located at the corner of Harry Wurzbach and Stanley roads at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, is  free and open to both Department of Defense cardholders and the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Visitors who want to come to the museum but do not have DOD access to get into JBSA-Fort Sam Houston should refer to the JBSA website at http://www.jbsa.af.mil/library/visitorinformation.asp for base entry requirements.

Museum information is at http://ameddmuseum.amedd.army.mil/index.html. To contact the museum, call 210-221-6358.