In October of 1988, Congress passed Public Law 100-526, The Base Closure and Realignment Act, which initiated the closure of the Presidio of San Francisco and its transfer from the U.S. Army to the National Park Service (NPS). In September of 1989, the Chief Curator of the Army, the Presidio Army Museum (PAM) Curator, and the NPS Western Regional Curator met at the PAM to discuss the transfer.
During this meeting, three basic categories of museum artifacts were identified:
- Historically significant objects that were reserved for retention by the U.S. Army.
- Artifacts specific to the history of the Presidio of San Francisco that justified transfer to the NPS.
- Generic property that could either be retained by the Army or transferred to the NPS.
Objects which were “Presidio Specific,” meaning items which were actually used on post at the Presidio, were to remain with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). All remaining items that were not Presidio specific would also be retained by the Army but with an understanding that the GGNRA could request temporary loans if items could assist in interpretive efforts. Collections from a single donation source with direct relation to each other would remain together. However, objects of a heraldic nature, such as regimental flags, being controlled by public law would remain in Army possession. Ultimately, the final determination of disposition fell to the Chief of Military History, and the Army needs would be served first. In general, if the Army desired a contested artifact and felt it could easily acquire a similar object from another source, that particular artifact would be transferred to the GGNRA.