Exciting new exhibits are being planned for the Oregon Military Museum. The Museum's transformation into a regionally significant, state-of-the-art visitor venue will dramatically increase its ability to serve the people of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.
Our exhibition space will quadruple. Exhibit diversity and quality will be enhanced, and improvements will allow for expanded public hours to welcome a greater number of visitors. The new park-like "Historic Area" features the 1911 Battery A Field Artillery Horse Barn and areas for educational outdoor exhibits.
The Oregon Military Museum will become the venue for high-quality visitor experiences, commensurate with the Museum's nationally significant collection. We invite all friends of Oregon military history, including Soldiers, Airmen, and veterans, to join with us in making this vision a reality.
The creation of visitor experiences for this state-of-the-art facility, including associated historic structures and outdoor interpretive features, will be guided by an Interpretive Master Plan. Working closely with the Museum Curator and the Museum's exhibit committee, Alice Parman, Ph.D., has authored this draft plan. After careful review by Museum professionals, scholars, and Oregon National Guard officers and staff, work will begin to finalize this plan. To view the entire Interpretive Plan click here.
Concepts From the Interpretive Plan of Future Exhibits:
- Our Roots
Our Roots documents Oregon’s earliest military history, from Native American citizen warrior traditions, through Lewis and Clark’s first U.S. military venture into the Pacific Northwest, to the organization of Oregon’s earliest militia. Visitors learn about Oregonians’ involvement in the Civil War, and follow the course of protracted Indian Wars, with Native warriors involved on both sides. Historic photos and documents, and a few precious artifacts, attest to the central role of military effort in establishing Oregon as a territory and a state, culminating in 1887 legislation establishing the Oregon National Guard. The finale of Our Roots is an electronic shooting gallery where visitors can safely handle replicas of 19th century weapons.
- First Overseas Service
First Overseas Service details the campaigns of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, 1898-1899. A tropical look and feel, a magic lantern show, and original artifacts immerse visitors to headline news and rapidly unfolding events that led Oregonians to fight overseas for the first time. Souvenirs and personal memoirs provide evidence of the decisive role played in the Philippines by the 2nd Oregon U.S. Volunteer Infantry. Here as throughout the timeline, special features and interludes portray the peacetime responsibilities and accomplishments of Oregonians in military service. In the period before World War I, the Oregon Naval Militia and the Coast Artillery Corps are in the spotlight.
Doughboys puts Camp Withycombe in the center of Oregon’s response to incursions into U.S. territory by Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. In Guarding the Border, period images and artifacts bring soldiers’ memories of Mexican Border Service to life. Visitors gain appreciation for this nationwide call-up as a training exercise that prepared the United States military for service in World War I. The centerpiece of Over There is a fully restored Liberty Truck. Uniformed mannequins represent an infantryman, a bilingual telephone operator, and a balloonist. Supported by artifact and photo collections as well as first-person accounts, these displays put both women and men in touch with the “war to end all wars” from three very different perspectives.
- The Motor Pool
The Motor Pool recreates the ambiance of a working maintenance shop, with changeable military vehicles from diverse historic periods. Visitors are welcome to climb into the cab of a deuce and a half truck for an unforgettable photo opportunity. A garage door lets Museum staff move the vehicles in and out, to be part of parades and other community events.
- A World at War
A World at War is the Museum’s largest display, reflecting the depth and breadth of its World War II collections. Mobilizing for War honors shipyard workers whose contributions were critical to victory in both the European and the Pacific theaters. Opening toolboxes and lunch pails, visitors find photos and memories of men and women throughout Oregon who contributed to the war effort. A photo essay with artifacts documents coastal defense units, and a Japanese attack on Fort Stevens. War in the Pacific begins with headlines and maps detailing an embattled nation, mourning soldiers stranded in the Philippines and men and ships lost during Pearl Harbor. A centerpiece diorama of a destroyed Japanese HaGo tank invites visitors to follow the path of the Sunset Division Jungleers; authentic images and artifacts and an interactive game bring their island-hopping amphibious attacks to life.Oregon on a War Footing showcases fascinating artifacts and photos to convey the involvement of ordinary men, women, and children in the war effort. Vintage calendar pages trace the Continuous Combat of the 104th Infantry Division Timberwolves during the 195 days that took them from Cherbourg to the Elbe River. Visitors use binoculars and stereoscopic viewers to learn about the air war, in Oregonians Take to the Skies. Breaking Barriers pays tribute to women and members of minority groups who overcame discriminatory laws to serve their country. Exceptional Valor honors all of Oregon’s Medal of Honor recipients, with a special focus on the selfless actions of 2nd Lt. David R. Kingsley, for whom the 173rd Fighter Wing’s Kingsley Field is named.
- The Cold War
The Cold War documents the period from 1945 to 1989: the Korean War, the Vietnam War era, and European conflicts through the demise of the Soviet Union. Centerpiece exhibits of the F-86 Sabre Jet as well as vehicles, photos, memorabilia, and quotes from oral histories show the roles played by Oregonians, overseas and stateside, in these historic events.
- In Our Time
In Our Time continues the story of Oregon’s military history through the present day. An artifact-rich feature on the Gulf War is followed by a chronology and changeable updates on the Global War on Terrorism since 2001. A special feature honors the role of the 142nd Fighter Wing, Patrolling the Skies over the West Coast. The timeline culminates in a web-based interactive experience, Homeland Security, where visitors are immersed in the ORNG’s unified emergency management and response system. They take roles, make decisions, and find out the consequences of those choices.
- We Are Family
We Are Family, changeable (and very personal) exhibits by and for veterans and their families, reflects the daily lives of people who most unfailingly support their deployed loved ones. A memorial quilt, first-person stories, and excerpts from a theater piece written and performed by veterans are highlights of this special display.
- The Guard Today
The Guard Today offers a lively introduction to the challenging, rewarding daily lives of citizen soldiers and airmen. Visitors learn about key roles of the National Guard, and see where the ORNG has been deployed, in Where in the World is the Oregon National Guard? A Day in the Life pairs mini-biographies with hands-on experiences, as visitors follow recruits through their first day of training. An obstacle course, Do Your Best, Give Your Best, lets adults and children measure their abilities against the Guard’s fitness standards. The ORNG’s humanitarian and civil defense activities are documented in Serving State and Nation. Visitors assess their knowledge of military etiquette and tradition in Test Your ORNG IQ, and use a touch-screen computer to learn more about Opportunities offered by the Oregon National Guard.
- The Weapons Vault
The Weapons Vault, a state-of-the-art storage and display facility for the Museum’s outstanding weapons collection, invites visitors to preview collection highlights in orientation exhibits, then view many of these priceless artifacts in a display format that meets the security requirements for weapons. Interpretive displays along a reader rail offer fascinating facts for novices, and enough technical information to satisfy military history buffs.