manufacturing victory

Wright Museum re-framing current notion of “history”

In a world in which “history” seems to last less than the time it takes to post an update on social media, the odds seemed stacked against the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro. Charged with commemorating all things related to World War II, the museum, however, has found a way to make the nation’s “greatest war” not only relevant, but engaging to all ages.

“We host fun events like a car show every August, a family day in July and other events that appeal to kids and parents alike,” said Mike Culver, executive director.

Extending beyond military ephemera to include art and photography, the museum features a changing lineup of exhibits, some of which focus on other conflicts to better contextualize the impact of WWII beyond the 1940’s.

In 2019, the museum plans to host a Smithsonian exhibit called Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II. According to Culver, the subject matter is hard-hitting.

“It addresses the internment of Japanese Americans, one of the most egregious events associated with the war,” he said.

The Smithsonian notes that the exhibit “traces the story of this incarceration and the people who survived it. Young and old lived crowded together in hastily built camps, endured poor living conditions, and were under the constant watch of military guards for two and a half years.”

Meanwhile, noted Culver, brave Japanese American men risked their lives fighting for the United States.

“This exhibit will present to visitors personal stories, fascinating documents, stunning photographs, and engaging interactives,” he said. “It speaks to themes that are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago, taking a deep look at immigration, prejudice, civil rights, heroism, and what it means to be an American.”

The only caveat is that the show does not come inexpensively, as Culver cited a price tag of $12,000 for a 10-week stay. If funding is secured, though, he said he believes the exhibit could attract many more visitors, including a greater number of student tours.

“This is a story that needs to be told and told by us,” he said. “Since next year is the 25th anniversary of the Wright Museum, I believe it is the perfect moment in our history to present this challenging subject to our audience…The affiliation with the Smithsonian also gives us their stamp of approval, which I think is very important to the future of the Wright.”

For Culver, though, the future is as much about now as it is, well, the future.

“As a nonprofit history museum in a world full of fast-paced technology, we cannot afford to
look past today,” he said. “It is what makes this industry and this museum in particular so interesting.”

Unique to traditional WWII museums, the Wright Museum features more than 14,000 items in its collection that are representative of both the home front and battle field.

The Wright Museum of World War II is located in Wolfeboro, NH and open daily to the public for the 2018 season from May 1 through October 31. Museum hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday from 12 to 4 pm.