Under Construction

First Division Museum Announces Major Redesign

Renovation will enhance the visitor experience by updating 1st Infantry Division history since 1970 and refreshing current exhibits


The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park will begin a transformational redesign project in November aimed at showcasing the full history of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division from its creation in 1917 through the present day and into the future.

The First Division Museum has been a part of Cantigny Park and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation since 1960. The original museum was housed in what is now the Cantigny Park Visitors Center. The museum’s much larger and current home opened in 1992.

Most of the current museum presents the 1st Infantry Division’s history through 1970, when the Division returned from Vietnam. The project announced today will allow a comprehensive telling of the “Big Red One’s” service since the Vietnam War and provide for future updates. Luci Creative from Lincolnwood (Ill.) will design the new and re-conceptualized exhibits.

“The First Division Museum’s mission is to present a complete history of the 1st Infantry Division,” said David Hiller, president and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which oversees all operations at Cantigny Park. “We owe that to our soldiers and veterans and also to those who visit Cantigny.”

“The Division was influential in the life of our benefactor,” Hiller added, “and we’re confident that Colonel McCormick’s wishes are being honored here today.”

The renovation will require the First Division Museum to close after Veterans Day, November 11, 2016. The museum expects to reopen in summer 2017, in observance of the centennial of the 1st Infantry Division and World War I.

“It’s very important to tell the 1st Infantry Division’s story since the Vietnam era, and this project allows us to do that in a new, exciting way,” said Paul Herbert, the museum’s executive director. “Our new exhibits will show the full scope of the many missions our soldiers and our armed forces perform; and will allow visitors to form their own opinions about our common defense.”

While the footprint of the museum is not changing, visitors will see dramatic differences inside. The lobby and existing walk-through exhibit gallery will be refreshed with interactive technology and new artifact displays. Most notably, the large temporary exhibit space on the east end of the museum will be converted to new exhibits dedicated to the 1st Division’s more recent history. Here, Luci’s cutting-edge storytelling techniques are sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.

“We are both honored and excited to play a lead role in this project,” said A.J. Goehle, Luci Creative’s director of strategy and design. “The museum’s vision, like ours, is to introduce visitors to our soldiers and the contemporary 1st Infantry Division through exhibit experiences that are unique to the museum community.”

As before, the compelling record of the Big Red One will be presented in the context of broader history, inviting museum visitors to engage in the tough issues of war and peace. School tours and programs previously held at the First Division Museum will take place at alternative Cantigny Park locations during the project.