Walking around the Pentagon is pretty amazing. In just about every hallway on every floor is some form of historic exhibit or cool thing to see.
Aside: My wife and I are total opposites when it comes to museums. I will stop and read every sign and look at every artifact and spend all day if time allows. She will browse the entire thing and be done in 30 minutes. Anyway, I have a tendency to stop and read historic signs and exhibits.I've been on the guided tour of the Pentagon before, and I must say it's pretty darn good. I learned a lot from the guided tour. (For information about requesting a tour, see this website.)
I know those guys who give the Pentagon tours don't just spontaneously put on their dress uniform, start walking backwards and spewing the history of the Pentagon. If I had stopped to give it any thought, then I'm sure I would have deduced that there had to be some training and qualification process in there somewhere. I just didn't give it any thought until one day recently. I was walking through the Pentagon and happened upon an odd sight:
There was the standard tour guide looking all spiffy in his dress uniform, walking backwards at a steady pace, meticulously spewing Pentagon trivia.
...Only there wasn't a gaggle of civilians with "ESCORT REQUIRED" badges following him.
There was just one guy in the Army digital camouflage uniform following him. He had a very bored, disinterested look on his face as he made check-marks on a clipboard and wrote notes as he evaluated the tour guide trainee's performance. It was just funny to see.
Anyway, the guided tour at the Pentagon is totally worth it. Unfortunately, you have to sign up like weeks in advance to get the tour.
If, like me, you would like to be able to take your kids or some visiting family members on short notice to see the Pentagon, then it might be useful to have a reference list of which exhibits are where.
I couldn't find anything on a quick Google search, so I decided to write one. As I've been going to meetings here and there around the Pentagon, I've been taking notes of things I might want to take family or friends to see.
The list below is provided in the same address format as anything else in the Pentagon:
Update 12/21/08: I found a list! There is a "Points of Interest " list on the Pentagon Tours website. It has a lot of stuff that is not on my list below, but I have some things on my list that aren't on their list.Update 09/08/13: They took this page down. :-(
Disclaimer: I'm a Navy guy. I spend most of my time in Navy spaces, so my list here is going to be biased towards Navy displays. If you have suggestions to add, please leave a comment or drop me an email.
4*4 Ship and submarine models (* no "ring" listed because it spans the entire 4th corridor)
4A5 Currently in service Navy and USMC models of ships, airplanes, and amphibious vehicles.
4E3 Navy & USMC Helicopter models interspersed with Navy Cross citations
4A6 Presidents who served in the U.S. Navy (next to the escalators)
4*6 Portraits of the previous Chiefs of Naval Operations (entire 6th corridor)
4A5 Portraits of the previous Secretaries of the Navy
4A6 Naval Aviation (half of hallway from 4A6 to 4A7)
4A7 U.S. Coast Guard (the second half of the hallway from 4A6 to 4A7)
1A4 Eisenhower (Entire hallway from 1A4 to 1A5 has exhibits spanning his entire career)
3A4 MacArthur (Entire hallway from 3A4 to 3A5 has exhibits spanning his entire career)
3*500 Antique Army recruiting posters and buy war bonds type posters (the entire corridor going out from MacArthur's statue)
2A10 to 2A9 ANZUS
2*4 Soldier Signers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. This corridor has several reproductions of large historic paintings of important moments of early American history around the time of the revolution.
2E6 to 2E7 Army's Living History Exhibit opened Dec 15, 2008. It's a pretty cool collection of Army uniforms, weapons, and historic stuff going all the way back to the American Revolution.
3A8 Antique telephones and switchboards (not terribly exciting, just cataloging that it's there)
5A900 & 5E900 - Air Force Artwork
4A3 Recent Navy Medal of Honor awards (SEALs Murphy and Monsoor in Afghanistan)
1*4 Quilts (besides the enormous quilts in the Metro Entrance to the Pentagon, there are several quilts on display in this corridor in addition to a couple of other odds and ends donated to the Pentagon).
3A7 POW/MIA (entire hallway from 3A6 to 3A7)
2E5 U.S. Army section of Pentagon hit on 9-11. There is a memorial at the end of the hall with pictures of each of the Dept. of the Army staff members who were killed in their offices that day. Just to the right a little ways is a diagram of the path of the airplane and an office map with color-coded desks for which people were killed, injured, unharmed, or weren't there that day.
???? Memorial Chapel where Flight 77 hit the Pentagon on 9-11. I heard this was cool to see, and I will seek it out and get an address.
3A1 The Pentagon Gift Shop is in the A ring between 3A1 and 3A10.