The National Guard Museum of New Jersey is headquartered in Sea Girt, with an Artillery Annex in located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and operates under the auspices of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
The not-for-profit museum's purpose is to preserve and explain New Jersey's military heritage, by collecting, preserving and displaying artifacts with specific relevance and historical significance to the New Jersey Army National Guard, the New Jersey Air National Guard and the New Jersey Naval Militia. It is a member of the Army Museum System.
The museum is headquartered at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt, and focuses on the role of the New Jersey Militia and National Guard from colonial times through the present day, with original and reproduction artifacts. The museum focuses on the role and experiences of the "citizen soldier". Established in 1980, the materials in the museum's collection have been documented and cataloged with the goal of becoming a certified Army museum. As of 1999, the museum had more than 4,000 artifacts, including an example of McClellan saddle designed by General George B. McClellan (later Governor of New Jersey), a collection of World War II photographs and static displays of vehicles and aircraft.
The Intelligent Whale, an experimental hand-cranked submarine based on an 1863 design is on display. Lawsuits and cost overruns meant the submarine wasn't available for combat in the Civil War. Originally planned to cost $15,000, the total cost ran up to quadruple the original estimate by the time it was completed in the late 1860s in Newark by the American Submarine Company. The submarine could carry four crew members who operated a hand-cranked propeller and could travel underwater at four knots. Compressed air allowed it to operate underwater for a total of up to ten hours and was also used to empty the ballast tanks to allow the submarine to surface. Test dives in the Passaic River in the late 1860s were successful, but the Navy decided to abandon the purchase after its operator was murdered. The submarine was transported to the museum in Sea Girt by truck in April 1999 from the Washington Naval Yard, where it had been located since 1968.
The museum is the home of the Center for U.S. War Veterans’ Oral History Project, which records interviews of veterans about their military experiences. These interviews are available on videotape and DVD for review by researchers and scholars. As of 2015[update], the center has recorded over 300 interviews with veterans serving in World War II and other conflicts through Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Artillery Annex is located at the Artillery Armory in Lawrenceville and includes displays of weapons, uniforms and other equipment from various times. Two rooms display artifacts and memorabilia from the American Civil War. A Model Room includes more than 100 scale models of military equipment. Fifteen tanks, vehicles and cannon are on display outdoors.
- National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Accessed November 11, 2008.
- Army Museum System Directory, U.S. Army Center of Military History
- DeMasters, Karen. "UP FRONT: ON THE MAP; A Civil War-Era Submarine Surfaces in Sea Girt", The New York Times, June 20, 1999. Accessed November 11, 2008.
- Oral History Archives, National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey. Accessed November 11, 2008.
- Oral Histories of World War II, New Jersey Network. Accessed November 11, 2008.
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