After many years it was realized that the old structure on Old Ironsides Avenue was not adequate to house and properly display the growing collection. The building was not climate controlled and required constant maintenance. The Patton Museum Foundation, charged with collecting private and corporate donations, decided it was time to build a more modern venue.
On November 11, 1972 the first building section of a five-stage plan was erected in Keyes Park near U.S. 31W. The building contained office space, a library and storage space for small items. It also housed exhibits of a few vehicles and weapons, primarily items and mementos of General Patton's life, but was not large enough to house all of the military vehicles in the collection. Some were stored in buildings on post, but many were put on display outside in the park. All of the World War II German vehicles and guns, along with examples of U.S. vehicles from different time periods, were placed on concrete pads after fragile parts were removed and put into storage.
On May 16, 1975 Phase II of the museum opened followed on November 30, 1982 and May 8, 1984 for Phases III and IV. Over the years, as each stage of building construction was completed, vehicles and guns were removed from the pads, cosmetically restored and moved inside the museum. During this time the museum also acquired an old maintenance facility, Trover Hall, for restoration work and storage for excess pieces. One other building acquired was the LST building. This building was constructed during World War II and designed to appear as the inside of the cargo area of a Landing Ship Tank (LST) along with its bow shape. This gave the building an unusual exterior shape and makes it one of the most unique buildings on post.
It was used first to test ventilation equipment that would be used on actual LSTs that would remove the exhaust of the running vehicles waiting to unload. After the war it was used as a classroom by the Armor School and eventually used to store vehicles for the museum.
As the museum structure grew, so did the collection. The museum acquired several unique and historic military vehicles such as the German Panther II, Tiger II, a StuG III G recovered from a bog in eastern Europe with most of its zimmerit anti-magnetic coating intact and the prototype U.S. T28 GMC along with foreign armored vehicles donated or captured from other nations. The museum's popularity also grew and was listed in the top ten tourist attractions in Kentucky.
One special function that increased the popularity of the museum was the vehicle drive-by days where operational vehicles were paraded in the park behind the museum.
This eventually led to the famous July 4th battle reenactments where World War II German and American tanks and troops would do a mock battle for spectators. This event grew as reenactment groups joined in the event with Patton Museum volunteers operating more vehicles. Spectators were given the unique privilege of seeing operational vehicles maneuver and fire their weapons.
Throughout the museum's existence, its primary mission was to preserve historical material that relates to armored warfare, vehicles and weapons through the ages and to make this material available to the military, the public, defense contractors and research and development organizations. Military personnel in training with the Armor School were frequent visitors to the museum as part of their curriculum.
On May 8, 1992, the Abrams Auditorium was the last stage of the museum constructed. This facility consists of a large area for meetings or other special events.