Next week, bidders from around the world will compete for a portion of the vehicles, weapons and artifacts now owned by the National Military History Center near Auburn.
Proceeds from the sale of hundreds of military items will be used to cut the amount of debt the museum, which opened in 2003, carries, making it easier for admissions and yearly fundraising to sustain the vast building south of Auburn. Besides improving its financial outlook, the sale also will open up more room in the facility.
“It's a great thing for us,” said Tammy Hantz, the center's operations manager. “The place is packed to the gills. We have no room for storage.”
What the history center does have are pieces already pledged to the museum from the Korean and Vietnam wars, but with no place to store – let alone display – them. Opening more space will not only allow the museum to reduce or eliminate its debt; it also moves the site closer to presenting a material history of all U.S. wars, from the Revolutionary War to the post-2001 war on terror.
“The interest in these pieces is worldwide,” said Ian Webb, who is marketing manager for Auctions America by RM, the company that is handling the sale. “There are collectors in the United States who have just one or two pieces. There are some of our collector-car buyers who have an interest, where we wouldn't have known that before. There are motorcycle collectors who are looking to expand their collections. There are museums that may be looking to buy a piece or two for their collections. … We've had calls from Germany, Russia, Australia, the U.K.; the interest is amazing in what we're offering for sale.”