History of the 45th ID Museum
An Act of the Oklahoma State Legislature passed in 1965 created the 45th Infantry Division Museum and placed it under the supervision of The Adjutant General of Oklahoma.
In 1974 the Lincoln Park Armory, the present site of the museum, became available and was dedicated to the museum for permanent occupancy.
This Armory was built by the Works Progress Administration, with completion in 1937. Following World War II, a brick Vehicle Storage Building was constructed thirty feet to the south of the Lincoln Park Armory.
Over the years, the Armory has housed several military units of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, including the 45th Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Its last tenant was the Oklahoma National Guard Officer Candidate School.
Under the Delegation of authority, the Board proceeded to complete the museum, in three planned phases, and on September 27, 1976, opened the museum after completing Phase I, in the native stone Lincoln Park Armory. In following years, Phases II and III were completed.
During this period the museum acquired, through private contributions, the Jordan B. Reaves American Military Weapons Collection and Bill Mauldin’s personal collection of his World War II cartoons. After these acquisitions, a connecting building was constructed between the Lincoln Park Armory and the brick Vehicle Storage Building, to house these two valuable collections and to put the museum in one structure.
The original grounds of the museum consisted of the two buildings on a plot of ground 300 feet by 300 feet. This area was increased by obtaining a 25-year lease from the City of Oklahoma City for adjoining ground, which gave the museum complex a total of 15- acres. With this additional ground, a landscaped Outdoor Military Park was established, in which there is now displayed more than 60 military vehicles, tanks, aircraft and big guns.
The Oklahoma Air National Guard is represented in the Supporting Forces Hall and aircraft formerly flown by the Oklahoma Air National Guard has been placed on outside display.
The museum operations are led by Colonel Dave Brown (Ret) The Director, Mike Gonzales our Curator who has been with the museum for more than 20 years, Leon Shackelford the data input and storage specialist, and Mike Beckett who serves as the historian. They, together with a dedicated crew of volunteers, work under the auspices of the office of the Adjutant General of Oklahoma. State monetary appropriations for operation of the museum are extremely limited and the museum operates mainly on the profits generated by Gift Shop sales and on voluntary donations by our visitors both in person and on the internet. No admission is charged for visiting the museum – so donations are greatly appreciated and keep our doors open.