National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch opens to public June 8

The National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico will open to the public beginning June 8 — just in time for trekkers, families attending conferences and visitors to be among the first to venture into this 19,500-square-foot home of BSA history.

On May 29, more than 1,100 guests and Philmont staffers witnessed the museum’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. Philmont Ranch Committee Chairmen Jim Ryffel addressed the crowd. He told them about the new museum and encouraged the staff to deliver another amazing summer to the 22,000 participants who will arrive soon at the BSA’s high-adventure home for hiking.

The museum will open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. beginning June 8.

Think of this as a sneak preview before the building’s official dedication ceremony on Sept. 15. Everyone is invited; see the special “Save the Date” below.

What to expect

The National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch combines the National Scouting Museum, previously located in Irving, Texas, and the Philmont Museum – Seton Memorial Library.

“These two historic institutions are now one comprehensive museum which will tell the story and preserve the legacies of the Boy Scouts of America,” says Kevin Dowling, Philmont’s general manager.

That means visitors can experience firsthand the 108-year history of the BSA through priceless Scouting artifacts and fascinating exhibits. They’ll learn the story of Scouting, the Order of the Arrow, Philmont and the American Southwest.

Although Philmont had a museum at base camp for many years, a much bigger structure was needed. Museum architects from Santa Fe, N.M., were hired, and the buzz of design and construction began.

A year and a half later, the beautiful new museum facility is ready to welcome guests. It faces the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the west. Native grasses of the high plains surround it.

The 19,500 square feet of interior space allows for a gift shop, library with reading room and visiting scholar’s room, two large exhibit halls, and an 88-person conference room. A big workshop, administration area and two-room collection storage area are new luxuries for the staff.

Philmont’s 2018 staff poses in front of the National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch.

Moving west

In December 2016, the BSA announced it would relocate its National Scouting Museum to Philmont. The new location offers the chance to introduce the BSA’s rich history to the 32,000 people who visit Philmont each year.

In September 2017, the BSA closed the doors of the museum’s former home in Irving. It then began the careful process of transporting the vast collection west.

A year later, on Sept. 15, 2018, the museum will hold a special grand opening. Be sure to save the date!

Three other museums to visit when you’re at Philmont

The Villa Philmonte is a Spanish mansion built in 1927. It was the summer home of Waite and Genevieve Phillips. In 1938 and 1941 they gave 127,500 acres of land to the Boy Scouts of America. These are the gifts that made Philmont Scout Ranch possible.

The Kit Carson Museum at Rayado is an interpretive site where staff members dress in period clothing and live the life of the 1850s — a time of mountain men and commerce on the Santa Fe Trail.

The Chase Ranch House of 1869 was the home of Manly and Theresa Chase. They arrived from Colorado with nothing but a wagon, a few tools, some pots and pans and a couple of horses. They built a highly regarded ranch and made smart decisions that are still the foundation of ranching in northern New Mexico today.


Thanks to Nancy Klein, Dominic Baima and Michael Roytek for the info and photos.

About Bryan Wendell 2895 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.