A Visit to the American Heritage Museum | Collings FoundationA Military History Museum at its Finest
The American Heritage Museum is an impressive new space in Hudson, MA, that showcases a multitude of tanks, automobiles, aircraft, and other machinery, with interactive exhibits, short films, and knowledgeable docents.
The Museum is a branch of the Collings Foundation, which has one of the largest collections of operational old-time aircraft and tanks in the world. The Collings Foundation also runs the Wings of Freedom tour, a nationwide tour of 110 cities, the longest functioning historic aircraft tour in the world.
Upon entry, you’ll be escorted into a spacious room with wide benches to view a short film about the early history of our nation and its involvement in the Revolutionary War and The Civil War. The film features re-enactments and famous scenes of our fore-fathers and patriots fighting for the liberties that we still appreciate and defend today.
Next, the doors open and your experience truly begins with an immersive WWI Trench Experience. It’s basically a room-sized diorama where you walk down stairs into a trench that runs across the room.
From there you can look up, as though in Europe, to barbed wire and the war front all around you on 3 screens, while a video presentation plays out a but of the story of World War I.
This space is really well thought out and gives you the perspective of what it may have been like having to fight from a trench, and makes you appreciate first hand, the bravery of the soldiers that actually did.
The next room features another short film on 2 screens about WWII and some of the shocking human stories and tragedies that came of it. Around the room you'll see some amazing historical pieces, like Hitler’s shiny show car he used for parades and some real soldier uniforms.
After the film sequence, you are led through to an enormous, aircraft-hangar sized building space with a balcony that runs along much of the second floor for viewing. Take the elevator or the central staircase down to the first floor to explore the amazing collection of real tanks that have been refurbrished to their original splendor.
Over 85 artifacts are on display, including the rare WWII German Panther tank, a combat veteran Russian IS-2 tank, an Iraqi SCUD missile and the only publicly displayed M1A1 Abrams tank in the world.
Best of all, you can go roam around at your leisure. Kids will enjoy the access to so many different types of military vehicles. Parents can discuss where each piece of machinery was used in the world. Many tanks on exhibit have real photos of that same tank in the field during a particular war, which is pretty amazing.
In addition to early wars, the exhibit goes on to feature tanks and machinery from more recent wars, including The Korean War, Vietnam, The Cold War (you can view a piece of the Berlin Wall here), The War on Terror (a moving tribute to 911 features a mangled steel beam from one of the Twin Towers), and the Gulf War.
Throughout the museum there are many volunteer docents, some are veterans, all are extremely knowledgeable, passionate about military history, and approachable. The short films and storylines that are found at each stop masterfully bring the human element to the forefront amidst these giant machines.
In short, this museum is a must-see, hidden gem that is completely unique and appeals to all ages. Whether you are a military history buff, or new to that scene, it’s hard not to be impressed after a visit to this impeccable and important new history museum.
The American Heritage Museum is just one of many amazing Boston Museums. A visit to each one will bring it's own unique adventure. A Museum visit is also a terrific activity when it's a rainy day in Boston.
Stacey Sao has been the Managing Director of the family-friendly events and
activities website, BostonCentral for over 20 years. She continues to enjoy discovering and exploring new places to visit in the Greater Boston area.
photo credits: BostonCentral