Street Address
Building 114
Camp Roberts, CA 93451
Mailing Address
Building 114
Camp Roberts, CA 93451
phone: 805-238-8288
fax: 805-238-8288
e-mail: crmiltmus@tcsn.net
web: www.camprobertshistoricalmuseum.com
Hours
Thursday, Saturday9 AM - 4 PM
The Museum is the repository for the entire history of one of America's largest and most historic Army installations, and is open to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (excluding National Holidays).
Admissions
Access: If visitors do not possess an active or retired military ID card, they must stop at the Military Police headquarters on the right to sign in and obtain a visitor pass before proceeding past the gate guard and entering the Camp.
Free
Services
Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Group Tours
Staff
Gary McMaster, Museum Curator and Foundation Board Chairman
phone: 805-237-8471
Dirk Hale, Foundation Board Vice Chairman
phone: 805-237-0918
Joan Hussey, Foundation Treasurer
phone: 805-238-8288
William Dupree, Foundation Board Second Vice Chairman
phone: 805-238-8288

Description

The Camp Roberts Historical Museum does not drift into the mainstream of museums, with every exhibit locked away behind glass. Instead, the visitor drifts among the epochs of the camp's enormous history, in an intimate association with the subject. Even the buildings and surroundings are kept primitive to some noticeable extent in order to imbue in the visitor a sense of the historic. It is experiential. It's not a product. It's not a showcase. It's a virtual fairground of important soldier history. And important visitors from the world over have commented that it is one of the most fascinating, well-designed, informative and interesting museum in the nation.

The Museum's mission is to familiarize military and civilian visitors with the long legacy of Camp Roberts as a major training site for America's military. When Camp Roberts was completed in 1941 Congress named it after Army Corporal Harold Roberts, the second tank crewman to receive the Medal of Honor. Roberts was killed at age 22 during the Argonne Offensive of World War I. The camp was originally the US Army's largest Replacement Training Center in the entire nation, and trained almost a half-million soldiers during World War II alone. It has continually trained active and reserve soldiers, including those of all U.S. military components and even Allied soldiers, since 1941.

Many celebrities did their Army training at the camp, including Red Skelton, Robert Mitchum, Steve Allen, Steve Reeves, Jackie Coogan, Jon Hall, Robert Fuller, and there is a Wall of Fame exhibit on them in the museum.

The many exhibits take the visitor from World War II through the Korean War and right up to current mobilizations to the Middle East. There are also exhibits on the early ranches and Salinan Indians who occupied the area prior to construction of the camp.

The camp has been run by the California Army National Guard since 1971 as its main training and pre-deployment site. It is currently one of the largest and most important National Guard training installations in the United States. The Camp Roberts Museum is housed in two historic World War II era buildings provided by the California Army National Guard, and the staffing consists of a dedicated all-volunteer staff.

The Museum's income for developing and maintaining exhibits comes from visitor donations, a membership program, and proceeds from the museum gift shop. The Museum has two video viewing areas, a conference area, a rear lawn with picnic facilities, a military library, and a kitchen. The Museum is run through an established non-profit organization and has a Board of Chancellors that includes Army Generals and members of the Caspar Weinberger family. The Museum also has access to the historic Soldier Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater that has been the site for countless celebrity shows and films (Laurel and Hardy headlined the very first USO Camp Show for soldiers there in 1941). It also has access to the restored WWII-era Theater No. 1 next to the Museum Annex, as well as other facilities for special events.

Camp Roberts is the scene of many WWII reenactment battles, facilitated by the Museum and the Camp Operations Directorate. The Museum is open to the general public on Thursdays andSaturdays, from 9am to 4pm, and admission is always free. Entrance to the Museum is gained by coming through the main gate of the camp, which has a dedicated off-ramp from U.S. Highway 101, just 12 miles north of Paso Robles, California. Driver should be in possession of drivers license, registration and proof of insurance for the vehicle.

History

The Camp Roberts Historical Museum began in the early 1980s, when Master Sergeant Albert Davis, a National Guardsman and civilian worker at Camp Roberts began researching the history of the Camp. An avid military historian, MSG Davis began collecting military items, many with provenance to the Camp. He eventually received permission to set up exhibits in the World War era Camp Roberts Post Office building. As military tanks and other tracked vehicles were released from the Army inventory, he began having select ones of historical significance transferred into the collection, and eventually opened it up to soldiers and to the general public on a part-time basis. Eventually, both the collection and the demand grew to the extent that the Camp Commander assigned the Museum use of Building 114, originally built by the Red Cross in WWII as their headquarters, and later used as the Camp Commander's home.

That building became the Main Museum, and the old post office became an annex, housing mostly WWII era vehicles. When MSG Davis persuaded Sergeant First Class Gary McMaster, the Camp Operations Sergeant, to assist him in developing the collections, a brochure was developed, a membership program was begun, vintage furniture was introduced, and the gift shop was expanded-all with the goal to both improve the museum's appearance and to expand revenue for future exhibits. SFC McMaster first developed the Korean War Room during the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War, then proceeded to perform an extensive upgrading and enhancement of all the exhibit areas in the Main Museum, procure mannequins to display many of the fine historic uniforms, and build many new exhibits in the Museum Annex, such as Red's Room (an recreation of the barracks area of comedian Red Skelton, "Camp Roberts' Most Famous Private"); the Val Rosing Exhibit (an extensive exhibit on the live shows produced for soldiers during WWII that used soldier talent and MGM contract players); an exhibit on the radio shows broadcast nationally from Camp Roberts during WWII, starring Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, Bob Hope and others, including original scripts; an exhibit on the Camp Roberts Chapels and Chaplains; a Camp Roberts sports photo exhibit; an exhibit on the long-running partnership program between the California Army National Guard and the Ukrainian Reserves; and others. SFC McMaster assisted MSG Davis by editing MSG Davis's extensive history of Camp Roberts, titled "Guns Across the Salinas," for publication, and they founded the Camp Roberts Historical Museum Foundation to facilitate the membership program. Upon MSG Davis's passing in 2002, SFC McMaster became the driving force behind the museum's expansion.

Now retired from the Army, he continues as the Curator, with Dirk Hale--another retired fulltime Guardsman NCO--as Assistant Chairman of the Foundation. Curator McMaster has written and published books on the history of Camp Roberts that are available in the Museum Gift Shop, including "The Ultimate Sacrifice," which is the biography of Corporal Harold W. Roberts, and "Hollywood at Camp Roberts," that relates the stories of the camp's many celebrity trainees and live Hollywood shows. The Camp Roberts Historical Museum is currently the largest Army-theme museum in the western United States.

Artifacts Collections

The Museum's collections include many of historical provenance to Camp Roberts, including thousands of original individual photographs, photograph albums and documents, the entire collection of camp newspapers through World War II and the Korean War, yearbook-type periodicals, many Army uniforms displayed in various exhibits on more than fifty mannequins, and thousands of vintage artifacts on display.

Research Collections

The Museum's research collections include thousands of original photographs, Camp Roberts military yearbooks, training class and summer camp group photographs, a military library broken down by subject and era that includes historical maps, and a second library consisting entirely of Army Technical Manuals and Field Manuals.

Educational Programs

The Museum is one of the founding members of the North County Historical Co-Op, which brings together all the museums and historical societies in North San Luis Obispo County. The Museum is pleased to arrange special tours for groups upon prior coordination. Free educational literature is provided to visitors on a variety of subjects, including the history of Camp Roberts, Corporal Roberts, the local Native American culture, the Korean War, and other subjects. Research requests can be submitted from the Museum's web site, and on-site research can be arranged with docents. All research is done either free of charge, or for a nominal fee to cover the making of copies, etc.

    Facilities

    Performance Areas

    Governance

    The Camp Roberts Historical Museum is managed by the Board of the Camp Roberts Historical Museum Foundation, an officially-recognized non-profit organization in the State of California. All Board Members and other staff are non-salaried volunteers. Neither the Foundation nor the Museum itself receive any direct funding from the State or Federal Governments.

    The Camp Roberts Historical Museum Foundation is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the State of California

    Library

    We also have a Facebook page on Corporal Roberts, the young MOH hero for whom the camp is named, at: http://www.facebook.com/CorporalHaroldWRoberts?ref=hl

    Access: General Public

    Appointment required: No

    Publications

    The Museum publishes a quarterly newsletter, the "Bugle Call," which it distributes to its membership.

    • "Bugle Call"

    ADA

    Wheelchair Accessible

    Services

    Gift Shop

    The museum gift shop is open the same days and hours as the museum, Thursday and Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm. The gift shop carries a variety of merchandise, including Museum Logo Polo Shirts, T-shirts, Ball Caps, Cups and Mugs. Please see our website for a list of the items carried in the gift shop. Several books specific to Camp Roberts’ long history are available, including: Camp Roberts (From Arcadia Publishers’ Images of America series) Hollywood at Camp Roberts (Covers many celebrities who training and entertained there) Ultimate Sacrifice (The biography of Corporal Roberts, camp namesake (Medal of Honor, WWI).

    GROUP TOURS

    The Museum is always eager to accommodate group tours. Our volunteers are very conscientious and eager to host larger groups that cannot make it on our normal Thursday or Saturday. If your tour group, veterans group or civic club would like a special tour of the Museum, please contact the Director/Curator, Gary McMaster, at (805) 286-6431, to make arrangements.

    Gift Shop

    Special Event Rental

    Group Tours