FORT SMITH — The U.S. Marshals Museum said Monday that it had received a $2 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation as it works to promote the $50 million facility as a national attraction rather than a regional one.
Organizers intend to break ground Sept. 24, 2014, the 225th anniversary of when President George Washington established the marshals. A commemorative coin will go on sale then, too, with proceeds expected to reach about $5 million.
Museum officials said the grant would help portray the intitution as one deserving of a broader audience.
"Combating the misperception that the museum is merely a Fort Smith project requires a change in focus from mere fund raising to educating the country and prospective donors about the marshals' vital national roles," the museum's president and chief executive officer, Jim Dunn, said in a statement. "We anticipate more high profile organizations, companies, and individuals who will see the national importance of the museum and want to be a part of the effort."
Fort Smith was selected for the new marshals museum because of its frontier history. Outlaws and lawmen went through Fort Smith on travels into and out of Indian Territory before Oklahoma statehood. Another marshals museum was located in Wyoming until 2002.
The $2 million grant is among the largest contributions to the museum since fundraising started last year.
The Walton Family Foundation was founded by relatives of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. Foundation officials did not return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.