Intelligence and Special Operations Museum Gets Boost from Starr Foundation

Intelligence and Special Operations Museum Gets Boost from Starr Foundation

Charles Pinck, president of the Office of Strategic Services Society, has 10 million reasons to have a happy new year.

Pinck and the OSS Society announced in December a $10 million lead gift from The Starr Foundation as major funding for the National Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations being built in the Kincora mixed-use development in Loudoun County.

“We are incredibly grateful to The Starr Foundation and its Chairman, Maurice Greenberg, for their extraordinary generosity,” Pinck said in announcing the donation. “This grant continues The Starr Foundation’s commitment to educational programs that preserve and convey important aspects of American history.”

According to Pinck, the OSS Society was started in New York City in 1947 by Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donovan. The original name was Veterans of the OSS, which was this country’s spy and special operations agency during World War II.

“Not just the CIA, but the Green Berets and every component of our intelligence and special operations traces its origins to the OSS,” Pinck said. “The Navy SEALs started as the OSS Maritime Unit.”

Pinck said his father was in the OSS, and that’s why he is involved. With most of the original OSS members dying off, Pinck said the group was reorganized under its current name and moved from New York to Washington, D.C.

The National Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations is planned as part of the Kincora property, a 424-acre, mixed-used development planned along Pacific Boulevard near the intersection of Routes 7 and 28.

The museum is a joint effort of the OSS Society and Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. Its slogan: Telling America’s Greatest Untold Story.

According to Pinck, the museum is scheduled to open in 2020.

“I have been working on it for at least eight years now,” Pinck said. “The vision has evolved quite a bit since I first had the idea. It is still kind of evolving now.”

Spying on one’s enemies and secretly penetrating behind enemy lines dates back to the beginning of human conflict. The first organized and sanctioned efforts by the United States started with Donovan and the OSS during World War II.

Donovan put together a group of people with unique abilities and training to gather information and even trick or deceive the nation’s Axis enemies.

“A Ph.D. who can handle himself in a bar fight,” was Donovan’s famous description of the ideal candidate.

The plans for the museum show a huge, glass-enclosed structure that will be a striking addition to Kincora and the Route 28 corridor.

Designed by renowned architectural firm Fentress Architects, this ribbed form also echoes the feathered beauty of an American bald eagle’s wing. The 67,000-square-foot museum features a variety of exhibition and event spaces including:

  • A 4,000-square-foot lobby and flexible event space
  • 19,000 square feet of permanent and temporary exhibition space
  • An education center equipped with flexible learning spaces for hosting student and corporate groups.
  • A 200-seat multifunctional space that can be used for films, forums, lectures and other events.

Pinck said similarities to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle are not coincidental. The Marine museum represents the raising of the American flag atop Mout Suribachi on Iwo Jima. NMISO will also abstractly represent the mission of the people it honors.

“The architect is the same one who did the Marines museum,” he said. “The building’s shape is a spear-head, which symbolizes the intelligence and special ops units – the tip of the spear.”

When plans for the American Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations was announced about a year ago, Loudoun County Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer said it will be yet another asset to make Loudoun County attractive.

“These are the kinds of things we are very excited about being able to bring to Loudoun County,” Rizer said. “It furthers the wholeness of our community and adds to the way we are able to grow in different ways. We think this is a great location for it. It will be a regional – if not a nation-wide – attraction.”

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Joseph Dill