Project History

How it Started

In January 2007, former U.S. Marshals Service Director John Clark announced the decision that Fort Smith, Arkansas would be the home of the U.S. Marshals Museum. Fort Smith is often considered sacred ground for the Marshals, as more Marshals and deputy Marshals died riding out of Fort Smith during the frontier era than in any other place or time in our nation’s history. This exciting site announcement culminated a highly-competitive selection process that had spanned several years. The dedicated group of volunteers who had represented Fort Smith throughout this selection process had work incredibly hard to earn this honor for our community. With the site designation in hand, the work then expanded and escalated.

The Design

The Robbie Westphal Family stepped forward, generously donating land along the Arkansas River to provide a beautiful setting for the Museum. Work then began in earnest to design a unique, welcoming exterior that would house engaging, entertaining, and educational exhibits to tell the story of the Marshals.


While the Marshals Museum is specifically dedicated to honoring a federal law enforcement agency, the Museum is not federally funded. Instead, this project is being funded almost entirely by the generosity of foundations, businesses, and individual donors. The Museum has also been also supported in-part by local and state government entities.

The U.S. Marshals Museum represents an investment of approximately $50 million dollars. Unlike other museums who have a single underwriting patron, this Museum is being funded by many – many generous foundations, people and businesses that want to make a significant impact on Fort Smith and the surrounding region, provide continuing civic education, and create a lasting legacy to brave men and women of the United States Marshals.

Project Update

The Mary Carleton and Robert A. Young III Building and the Samuel M. Sicard Hall of Honor were dedicated on September 24, 2019, marking the 230th anniversary of the creation of the United States Marshals Service.

Staff officially moved into the new Museum building on Riverfront Drive on January 16, 2020.  The artifact collection was moved into Curation the following month.  Beginning in March 2020, the Museum staff practiced social distancing protocols and worked the majority of their time from home, due to the COVID pandemic.  Programming continued via online camp experiences and virtual Constitution Week activities, weekly Facebook Live presentations, and the annual An Evening in the Past event was presented both in person and virtually.  By adjusting to the use of virtual programming, the Museum was able to continue reaching an audience of several thousand adults and children.

In June 2021, the Museum Foundation received a $5 million anonymous matching gift. The USMMF continues fundraising efforts to complete the Capital Campaign. Having sufficient cash and pledges, the Museum signed a contract with Thinkwell Group in November 2021. Thinkwell Group is a global design and production company who will bring the Museum Experience to life.

In October 2022, the USMM shared that construction in the gallery space has resumed, and the exhibit experiences were under construction around the country. Installation of the exhibits began Spring 2023.

Opening Day

The U.S. Marshals Museum officially opened to the public on July 1st, 2023. It is now open 9:00AM-5:00PM daily. Closed on New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.