Walker Foundation donates $1 million to U.S. Marshals Museum

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 938 views 

The Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation in Fayetteville announced a $1 million pledge Wednesday (May 10) to the U.S. Marshals Museum Foundation to help complete the museum’s capital fundraising efforts.

To honor the foundation for the contribution, the museum’s education hub, which will serve all 94 judicial districts served by the U.S. Marshals Service, will be named the Willard and Pat Walker National Learning Center. The hub will allow virtual outreach to a number of educational institutions in the district, said Susan Neyman, chief development officer and president of the foundation.

The U.S. Marshals Museum recently announced the facility on the banks of the Arkansas River would open on July 1. Construction of the approximately 53,000-square-foot museum was completed – except for exhibits – in early 2020. In January 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service selected Fort Smith as the site for the national museum. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in September 2015, and museum officials initially hoped to have the facility open by late 2017, but difficulty raising money delayed the opening.

Once open, the museum will tell the story of the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency, which was established by President George Washington.

“After the U.S. Marshals Museum opens to the public on July 1, 2023, the support of the Walker family will guarantee our continued focus on education. While the USMM has already implemented and delivered educational programming related to marshal history, civic literacy, and STEM to more than 28,000 students in over 500 classrooms across the country, our reach will be even greater as a result of this gift,” Neyman said.

The National Learning Center, featured inside the museum, is designed as a learning and teaching hub for onsite and online educational experiences and will enhance the continued efforts to reach all ages locally, regionally, and nationally with educational programming and resources.

“Education is integral to our mission. It is integral to the opportunity to make history something that is understood, to teach that the rule of law and the Constitution are relevant today in every aspect of our lives,” Neyman said.

The Willard and Pat Walker National Learning Center will be available to students of all ages, including teachers, families, and adult learners seeking the stories presented in the museum at a deeper level. It represents the commitment of the museum to become an educational partner with schools and communities, offering an in-depth encounter with not only Marshal history but also civic engagement and Constitutional history, noted a news release.

The learning complex includes two classrooms and the 1789 Room. The 1789 Room is a multi-purpose space, including programs such as camps, school programs, teacher professional development, workshops and other public programs. One of the classrooms will serve as a resource room, hosting resources for further research by visitors. The room will Include a small library, computers with subscriptions to sites such as ancestry.com and newspapers.com, tables and chairs for research or for program use, media setup and other resources.

“We have the professionals (for the education hub). This gift allows us to have the equipment, the technology, the subscriptions, everything needed to provide this education,” Neyman said.

She said the foundation lacks about $2 million from reaching its capital campaign goal.