The Rock Island Arsenal Museum is the Army’s second oldest museum and it opened in 1905. It showcases many obsolete munitions from handguns to cannons and several of the guns on display are the last remaining weapons of their type known to exist making this a real treasure trove for munitions experts and enthusiasts. The museum can easily be seen in an hour and then followed with a visit to the nearby Mississippi River Visitor Center Locks & Dam to watch boats cross through the locks and perhaps catch sight of a bald eagle.
Rock Island is a less than three hour drive from Chicago but the Rock Island Arsenal is still a working foundry with 7500 employees manufacturing military equipment and ordinance. As such you’ll be required to show your driver’s license when you enter the island and answer questions about what you plan to do on the island. Foreign visitors should register their trip at least a week prior to their visit. Admission is free and the museum is open in the afternoons from Tuesday-Saturday.