Armed Forces Military Museum
27º 53′ 54″ N/ 82º 45′ 09″ W
Larg0, a town without notability or notoriety, has a museum dedicated to the military that is world class — it is fabulous in scope and display. Exhibits are not merely stored, they are arranged with artful skill and organization to best illustrate the historical importance of the item or items. Interior walls have faux building fronts standing out from them giving a sense of three dimensions, in another case a faithful replica of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Akagi (赤城) aircraft carrier bridge stands partially out of another wall, all done with a level of expertise rivaling world class museums. Especially appreciated is the apolitical approach the museum holds to — there is no bias to any particular service or country as befits a museum of the armed forces of the world. Exhibits are primarily United States in origin but there are also unexpected treasures to be discovered such as chairs from Admiral Yamamoto’s headquarters on Rabaul as well as Japanese and Russian equipment. All manner of the services are represented as well as countries and this quite a feat since one man is responsible for most of the collection — his name is John J. Piazza, Sr.
Mr. Piazza thankfully now shares his collection and set up the Armed Forces Military Museum, I’m sure with the help of many skilled people. Mentioned before is the artful as well as engaging display style. Initiative to place the visitor into the period and location in each room’s historical subject is commendable and difficult to match — a light mist envelopes the visitor in the WW I Trench exhibit as one walks through a replica trench, for example. Then there is the half-hull replica of WW II IJN heavy aircraft carrier Akagi 赤城 constructed from the ship’s plans. This is simply a professional operation and no mere amassing of memorabilia. A collection is an organized set of artifacts which clearly shows a historical event or technology and this museum is replete with collections.
Although most of the museum is concerned with infantry arms and armor there is a substantial mount related to aviation’s history. Examples are air-to-air missiles, rockets (both large and small) as well as a few aircraft (UH-1, Bell 47 and MiG 21).
The museum needs no eating facilities since it lies with a large metro area and has plenty of clean restrooms. It is definitely a place to take children given the nature of the museums displays and dioramas (many in full scale). The Armed Forces Military Museum is a world class museum near St. Petersburg and Tampa and who would have thought a world class museum of this nature would be found outside of a world city like Paris or New York :)