Located in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, the MacArthur Memorial has four beautiful buildings containing a theater, a research center and library, a gift shop, and a museum which also houses the remains of General Douglas MacArthur and his second wife, Jean. Although MacArthur never lived in Norfolk (a Navy town), his mother, Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur, was a Norfolk native. MacArthur visited the town in 1951 during the city's unsuccessful attempts to have Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur's birthplace recognized as a national shrine and he liked it so much he later agreed to be buried there when the city proposed to build the Memorial.
The museum is in the restored 1850 Norfolk City Hall building, with the tomb inside the magnificent old rotunda, surrounded by flags from MacArthur's commands and memorable inscriptions in the marble walls. The remainder of the building (two floors) contains nine permanent exhibits that chronicle the General's life, from his childhood as the third son of an Army hero (Arthur MacArthur, who served in the American Civil War) to his service to his country as an Army officer in World Wars I and II and the Korean War. The exhibits show not only artifacts from the General's life and times, but also offer a wider perspective on the conflicts and the people involved on both sides. Chronological recordings that correspond to lighted map displays tell visitors the stories of the great battles. There is a reproduction of the Instrument of Surrender, signed by MacArthur in 1945, and a floor plaque commemorating the place on the deck of the USS Missouri where the surrender occurred.
The theater next door contains two special changing exhibits and shows a 24-minute film history of MacArthur's life throughout the day. The library and Jean MacArthur Research Center holds all of the General's books and papers, which he donated to the museum in his will. The gift shop sells souvenirs and other items of interest to the public, including books, photos, replica coins and medals, video and audio tapes, magnets, coffee mugs, pins, and (of course) corn cob pipes.1
The General Douglas MacArthur Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 1962, operates the Memorial. The Foundation commissioned the bronze statue of General MacArthur that stands on a pedestal in front of the museum. Educational tours are available to school and other groups. Admission to the Memorial is free (but donations are gratefully accepted) and visitors are permitted to wander at will, although each building has at least one employee available to answer questions and offer assistance. The Memorial is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Thanksgiving Day, January 1, and December 25. The research center and library are only open on weekdays. Parking tickets from any downtown parking lot can be validated at the Memorial.2
1. In many old photos and films, MacArthur is seen smoking (or at least chewing on) an outrageous corn cob pipe. The pipe, plus his large dark glasses and fancy big General's hat, provide an instantly recognizable caricature of the man.
2 On Saturdays, parking across the street at the gargantuan MacArthur Center mall is only $1 all day before 6 p.m. I last visited the Memorial on August 10, 2002. Prices and hours stated above were accurate at that time. However, you should check the following websites or call the Memorial at 757-626-4163 before you go.
The MacArthur Memorial is featured on the Cannonball Trail walking tour of downtown Norfolk. Stop by the Freemason Street or MacArthur Center (the mall) visitors' information center for a map.