Why the National Museum of the Pacific War is in Texas
The National Museum of the Pacific War is located in Fredericksburg, Texas. Situated roughly in the middle of the state, the museum is about 673 miles from the Pacific Ocean. It seems odd to put a museum about the Pacific Theater in Fredericksburg. However, the city is also the boyhood home of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during WWII.
In 1852, Nimitz's grandfather built the Nimitz Hotel in Fredericksburg. The hotel hosted such famous guests as Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and President Rutherford B. Hayes. Nimitz was born on February 24, 1885, after his father died, and was raised by his mother and grandfather. As a result, the Nimitz Hotel became a place of importance for the future Fleet Admiral.
In 1964, the Admiral Nimitz Foundation was established in Fredericksburg to support a museum in Nimitz's honor. Four years later and two years after Nimitz died, the Texas legislature restored the Nimitz Hotel and renamed it the Admiral Nimitz Museum. Although the museum was originally dedicated specifically to Nimitz, his life and Naval career, its scope was later expanded. In 2000, it was renamed the Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site – National Museum of the Pacific War. The museum is now dedicated to Pacific Theater battles of WWII.
The Admiral Nimitz Gallery is complemented by the George H. W. Bush Gallery, which houses additional exhibits, including a Japanese midget submarine that took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition to the two galleries, the six-acre campus hosts a Plaza of Presidents, a Memorial Courtyard and a Garden of Peace gifted by the Japanese people in 1976. Nearby the main campus is the Pacific Combat Zone which recreates the challenges of island warfare and is used for demonstrations and recreations.
The National Museum of the Pacific War is a world-class institution and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute. Today, the foundation remains true to its vision of honoring Admiral Nimitz as well as the men and women who served in the Pacific Theater during WWII. With its extensive collection, the museum educates and inspires future generations.