All Eyes photo gallery: Armed Forces History Museum in Largo to close
The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo will permanently cease operations on Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 4:00pm after more than 8 years due to the lack of funding. The announcement was made after the museum’s founder, John J. Piazza, Sr. passed away last October (2016). After its grand opening, August 16, 2008, the museum quickly became a destination for an estimated 25,000 guests each year who came to learn about the history of modern warfare through exploring Piazza’s expansive collection which he curated over 55 years of collecting military memorabilia ranging from grenades to tanks.
Piazza’s collection soon became known for recognizing and honoring generations of Americans by preserving the history and memories of the military and its veterans, and for educating children through their Operation Education program. The museum has been operating in the red since its opening, according to museum officials who attributed this to its challenging location in Largo where the museum cannot be seen on a main road in an industrial park inside of a warehouse. The museum’s short-term success was bolstered with the help of a devoted base of docents, veterans, active military and volunteers.
The Operation Education program provided complimentary admission, a hot lunch and bus transportation for underprivileged children. Thousands of children throughout Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties who have benefitted from the program which worked to provide them with knowledge of military history. In lieu of the subject being offered in the classroom, the museum's docents/veterans would act as guest speakers in schools.
The Piazza family estate, along with the museum's board of directors, are currently in discussions regarding the future of the museum's collections. Becoming acquired by another organization or the government are still being investigated with all opportunities being considered. The staff is meeting to create a final day event to show their gratitude and to acknowledge the general public who have been fiercely loyal. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.
Those having questions or comments about the museum are being directed to send their inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.