West Point Military Museum
The West Point Museum is located on the campus of the US Military Academy at West Point, New York.
The Museum at West Point covers 2 floors in a really architecturally interesting building. While it doesn't cover a lot of space, there are many interesting and historically significant military exhibits on display. The upper floor contains mostly small arms. The display starts in a generally historical time line from early stone age knives and spears to swords and armor, to early muzzle loading firearms, then repeating rifles and pistols followed by semi automatic and full auto weapons and machine guns.
The lower floor has larger exhibits. There are a number of early and Civil War Era cannon, mortars and bazookas, a WWI Dodge Touring Car, a WWII Jeep, a WWI Ford built tank, and an atomic bomb casing sans fissionable plutonium and explosive charges of the Fat Man Nagasaki atomic bomb Mark 3 series.
Many of the arms are historically significant. You'll find General George S. Patton's Thompson Submachine Gun, Adolph Hitler's Liliput pistol, Herman Goering's Smith & Wesson .38 Special, his ivory ceremonial baton, and his sterling silver bound guest book. Napoleon's pistols and sword are on display, as well as General Yamashita, "The Tiger of Malaysia"'s sword. One of the two green safety plugs pulled from the Nagasaki Fat Man Atomic Bomb after takeoff to arm the bomb is on display, along with the first pen used in the signing of the Japanese surrender documents at the end of WWII in Tokyo Bay. The French 75mm field cannon that fired the first US shot against German troops in WWI can be found on the lower floor in the artillery section.
Some weapons have very early serial numbers or are predecessors or even prototypes. There is the predecessor to the M1 Garand semiautomatic rifle, the M16 assault rifle prototype, and the Beretta 92 M2 pistol Serial Number 3. A very rare German WWII Sturmgewehr 44, the very first practical assault rifle and what many believe to be the inspiration for the very similar AK-47 can be found next to a Chinese AK-47. The similarities of the two weapons are more than obvious.
Two home made Viet Cong weapons were included. One was a 60mm rocket launcher/bazooka, and the other is a copy of a Thompson Submachine Gun. The Tommy Gun copy at a glance would easily pass for the real thing. The Viet Cong craftsmen did a good job of copying it, the one difference being a smooth bore barrel. Since the Thompson was mostly used at short ranges this could have been more of an asset than a detriment, as accuracy wasn't so much of an issue. Also if the slugs tumbled and hit sideways they did even more damage than a spinning slug going straight.
All of the West Point Museum exhibits were extremely well displayed and lit. The lighting was among the best I've seen, very professionally and thoughtfully done. It's dark from a standpoint of photography, but it's very impressive from the visitor's perspective. The museum's staff must clean the glass casings daily as there were no smudges or hand prints that I noticed.
The Museum is located on the ground of the West Point Military Academy. Admission was free, and parking was within a short walk of the museum. The main entrance can be accessed from the right to avoid the stairs and there is an elevator inside so it does appear to be handicapped accessible. Across the street are some small shops and you should be able to find a sandwich for lunch within walking distance. The USMA's Welcome Center is right next door and they have a gift shop with a lot of US Army hats, clothes, and a lot of other stuff.
Visit the West Point Military Museum's website for hours and closure days. If you need more information I'd suggest calling the Academy's main number. I had emailed the address listed on the museum page asking if any exhibits were closed before I went but got no response.
Another military museum within about an hour's drive from West Point is the Military Museum of Southern New England in Danbury, CT. It's not very large but they do have some interesting tanks and armored vehicles and the indoor displays are very well done. Both museums could be easily visited in one day.
This website not affiliated with the West Point Museum or the Department of Defense.