WASHINGTON D.C. – Created practically overnight, in the depths of World War II, men and women from all parts of American society created the most dynamic and unique organization in United States history: the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Special Operations Forces, and the U.S. intelligence community.
Today, nearly 70 years later, the OSS Society has embarked on its latest mission, though not nearly so clandestine as those of its youth: to tell the great, largely unknown story of the OSS and its lasting effect on U.S. national security through the creation of a National OSS Museum of American Intelligence & Special Operations™.
On Oct. 15, the OSS Society unveiled plans for this new museum, designed by Fentress Architects, which will tell the story of the men and women who served in the OSS between June 13, 1942, and Oct. 1, 1945. The landmark building and its three-quarter acre of exhibits will jointly remind the world of their efforts, achievements and sacrifice. The architectural design expresses the spirit of resistance, and eventual triumph against the forces of oppression and terror, in stone, glass and steel.
“It is a great honor to roll out plans for the National OSS Museum of American Intelligence & Special Operations. It will tell a monumental story, made up of over 70 years of history about the country’s very first strategic missions to preserve our freedoms during times of war. This is the story of the OSS, a story that has not been heard before,” said Curtis Fentress, founder and chief designer at Fentress Architects. “This museum will be a national tribute to all former members of the OSS, their families, and the American people.”
The design of the National OSS Museum™ was inspired by emblems symbolic to the organization: the wingspan of the American Bald Eagle, represented by the twisting gesture of the dramatic roof line, and the spearhead of the official OSS seal, which inspired the museum’s site plan. These symbols connect the past to the present-day Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Operations Forces, which were born from the OSS and carry on its legacy today.
“The concepts pioneered by General Donovan and the OSS continue to guide those in the contemporary intelligence and special operations fields.” David Petraeus, director of the CIA.
Visitors arriving by vehicle will see a breathtaking structure rise above the tree line. The museum’s 11 angular forms will create a powerful gesture of the OSS’s rise to prominence amidst global conflict and unrest. Enlivened by light entering through glass walls and clerestories, the lyrical composition speaks to how the 11 divisions of the OSS worked together on daring missions to preserve the country’s freedoms. Day and night, the museum will be a beacon on the horizon.
Upon entering, visitors experience a soaring space with a 500-foot-long by 80-foot-tall curved Remembrance Wall engraved with the names of the OSS members killed in action during WWII, poignantly recalling each life. Epic scenes from OSS training and operations films are projected on this wall, and immerse the visitor in history. Audio of direct voices and sounds will add to the immersive experience.
The facing Reflection Walls create interactive multi-media zones that provide private areas for personal contemplation. Visitors from throughout the world can access wartime stories of these clandestine heroes, share their thoughts, or further immerse themselves in the experience through these touch-screen walls. The use of monumental digital media allows these walls to function as additional exhibit spaces and to position the museum in the 21st century. The complex will also serve as a center of research. To reduce operations and maintenance costs, the museum will be sustainable, designed to meet LEED Gold certification standards.
“Today, our Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Special Operations Forces, and the entire intelligence community are as critical to protecting the United States as they have ever been in our nation’s history,” said Charles Pinck, president of the OSS Society. “I am very excited about and proud of this museum design honoring the OSS, as it will give us the chance to tell America’s greatest untold story.”
The National OSS Museum of American Intelligence and Special Operations™ will celebrate the historic accomplishments of the OSS, America’s first strategic intelligence agency. It will be a monument to those who served in the OSS and those today who are inspired by its legacy.
For more information on The OSS Society, visit www.osssociety.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the National OSS Museum of American Intelligence & Special Operations™, visit www.nationalossmuseum.org.
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