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Growing Monthly
In the upcoming months, repeat visitors to the site will be able to watch as the online archive grows. The NRA has a treasure trove of material that has been presented in past books, magazines, television shows and webcasts. A major goal of the National Firearms Museum and other new NRA web channels is to accumulate these resources in one place, to be available at the click of a mouse for research, education and entertainment.

This rich archival material will be supplemented with exciting new features that’ll focus on dynamic video presentations. It is anticipated that in-depth stories behind the guns in the museum will become among the most popular features on the site. Previously, much of this information was available only to those lucky enough to get a personally guided tour from the senior curators. At the new web channel, anyone will be able to build his or her own custom tour with expert, behind-the-scenes insight available with a keystroke.

Visitors will view and learn about guns owned by Theodore Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, Dwight Eisenhower, Napoleon, Chuck Yeager and Buffalo Bill, among many others. They can call up detailed photos of some of the finest firearm engraving in the world, or explore the weird and wonderful world of firearms curiosa, such as cane guns, knife pistols, folding guns and working miniature firearms.

In addition to material presented to entertain and fascinate all visitors, there will also be a strong emphasis on making NationalFirearmsMuseum.org a powerful research tool for collectors, enthusiasts and scholars. The entire inventory of the National Firearms Museum will be made available in a searchable database. A researcher will be able to custom-design a search by parameters such as make, model, action type, period of use, historic importance, and then call up the photos and detailed information on the guns that meet the specified criteria.

Those looking for timely information on news and special events in the world of gun collecting will find that available as well. As the NRA increases its efforts to project the National Firearms Museum experience outside the museum walls, there will be notices on upcoming special events, traveling displays and curatorial talks. With a scrolling marquee of the latest NRAblog.com entries, visitors will find the scoop on the latest events. There are even full-length features, including the complete video of Lt. Col. Oliver North’s recent address at the museum, focusing on “American Heroes” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Special Exhibits No Longer Temporary
For years, the Ruger Gallery’s rotating displays have played a key role in attracting return visitors to the National Firearms Museum to see “what’s new.” Every year or so, this gallery is completely redesigned with all new material gathered from the finest private collections around the world and from the depths of storage vaults of other institutions. Usually, these temporary displays are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as it is unlikely that each particular grouping of exceptional firearms will ever be shown together in one place again.

The current “Guns West” display is no exception. Through the end of 2009, visitors can view historic guns of the Old West of the 19th century, including arms owned and used by Jesse James, John Wesley Hardin, Texas Jack Omohundro, Frank Hamer and other Texas Rangers and lawmen. There are also firearms from the Old West of our imagination—the actual guns used in movies and tv shows including Tom Selleck’s Sharps from “Quigley Down Under,” John Wayne’s Winchester from “Stagecoach” and his Colt from “True Grit,” Clint Eastwood’s Walker from “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” Chuck Connor’s big loop lever gun from “The Rifleman” and many others.

The only downside of these special exhibits is that these guns disappear from public view after the temporary display is removed.

Thanks to the new web experience, that will no longer be the case. These exceptional guns from the temporary displays will be captured in both photographs and video, and made available for enjoyment and research long after the guns themselves have been shipped backed to their owners and locked away in private collections.

The recently launched Phase One of NationalFirearmsMuseum.org makes a significant step towards providing two vital resources to two distinct audiences.

First, of course, the website needs to become the prime destination on the Internet for firearm history information and reference material, for NRA members and other gun enthusiasts. The goal is to make the depth and breadth of “gunology” history, information and lore available in a comprehensive, easy-to-use resource.

The second target audience—the general public—is equally important. It is essential to present the true story of firearms and the roles they have played in American life to all who seek this information. With education comes understanding, and with understanding comes the ability to make intelligent, informed decisions.

Our goal at the National Firearms Museum, with NationalFirearmsMuseum.org, is to do this in a way that is even-handed, accurate, educational, entertaining and compelling.

We invite all Americans interested in the history of our great nation to visit us in person or on the web. Your opportunity to learn and be entertained by viewing thousands of historical firearms will greatly expand in the coming months as we continue to expand the personal and online experiences of the National Firearms Museum.

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