The Intelligence and Special Operations Museum is one step closer to completion after a donation of $10 million by The Star Foundation. The museum, currently under construction, celebrates the lineage of America’s Intelligence and Special Operations Forces (SOF) communities.
Charles Pinck, president of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Society, said “we are incredibly grateful to The Starr Foundation and its Chairman, Maurice Greenberg, for their extraordinary generosity. This grant continues The Starr Foundation’s commitment to educational programs that preserve and convey important aspects of American history.”
The OSS was the forefather of not just the CIA and the Army’s Special Forces, but of all current special operations units in the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). For example, the Underwater Demolition Teams, which preceded the Navy SEALs, were the maritime component of the OSS. When General William “Wild Bill” Donovan started recruiting people for the OSS, he described the ideal candidate as “a PhD who can handle himself in a bar fight.”
The Intelligence and Special Operations Museum is designed by Fentress Architects, an established architectural company that also built the United States Marine Corps museum. It’s approximately 67,000 square feet, featuring a wide range of permanent and special exhibitions. More specifically, it contains:
- 4,000 square feet of event space
- 19,000 square feet of permanent and temporary exhibitions
- An education center for visiting students and other organizations
- A 200-seat auditorium for movie screenings, lectures, discussions, and debates
Interestingly, the museum building is constructed as a spearhead—a reference to the “tip of the spear” character that accompanies SOF units, which are almost always the first to respond in a national crisis.
The museum is scheduled to open to the public somewhere between 2020 and 2021. And it’s still a developing concept, according to Pinck, who has worked on the project for almost a decade. “The vision has evolved quite a bit since I first had the idea. It is still kind of evolving now,” he said.
The project has a number of notable patrons from the Defense, Intelligence, and SOF communities. These include retired Admiral William McRaven, who commanded SOCOM and Joint Special Operations Command; retired General David Petraeus, who developed the famous “Surge” strategy that managed to turn the Iraqi War, and who later became CIA director; and Leon Panetta, who served as Secretary of Defense as well as CIA director during the Obama administration.
With assets valuing an approximate $1.5 billion, the Star Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the country. It provides grants to numerous fields, including academic, medical, healthcare, environmental, cultural, and public policy.