The Wright Museum of World War II collects and shares military equipment and other artifacts that relate to the experiences of soldiers and civilians during the Second World War. The museum is based around three distinct sections: a home front gallery and orientation theater; a visitor’s center; and the military history section. There is a collection of fully operational vintage military vehicles, including a 42-ton Pershing tank, on display at the museum.
The Wright Museum of World War II
contains an extensive collection of over 14,000 historic items which represent
America’s involvement both at home and overseas on the battleground. The museum sets itself apart from others
because it tells the stories of the contributions that Americans made at home
as well as those who fought with the Allied forces. There is even a display of
fully operational WWII-era vehicles at the museum.
The museum is named after its
founder, David Wright. Wright established the museum in 1994 to create a space
for people to learn about America’s contributions to the World War II efforts
from 1939-1945. David Wright is the son of a World War II veteran and has been
collecting artifacts related to the Allied victory in Europe for many years. He realized that it was important to share
his collection with others as well as to tell the stories of Americans involved
in the war effort. In 1992, he purchased an 8-acre site near Wolfeboro’s Smith
River. The site was the former location
of the Diamond National Sawmill. He
updated the property and on July 16, 1994, he opened the doors of his museum to
its first guests.
When guests visit the museum,
they can begin with a short video in the Orientation Theater about the purpose
of the Wright Museum and the kinds of displays waiting for them. From there,
they can begin the self-guided tour through the museum’s Home Front
Gallery. This room features posters,
toys, and other artifacts which tell the story of how ordinary Americans
contributed to the war effort at home. There was scarcely an American citizen
who did not support the war effort in some way – whether by going overseas to
fight, going to work and taking over for the jobs that the soldiers left
behind, rationing, or buying war bonds. The next exhibit after the Home Front
Gallery is called the Time Tunnel. This is an interesting series of rooms which
depict propaganda and media perspectives of the war from each year (1939 –
1945). The Wright Museum also has an
ever-changing art gallery and a military gallery where specimens from the
museum’s vast collection of war vehicles are displayed.
On the second floor of the
museum, there is a library full of materials for visitors to peruse to learn
more about the World War II era. The Wright Museum's Arnold and Carol Haynes
Research Library opened in 2009 and has been available to both student and
researchers by appointment. Some of the
materials available at the library include: unit histories; eyewitness
accounts; scholarly articles; periodicals written at home as well as magazines
from the front lines; and publications from government entities such as the
Office of War Information, the Department of War, and other federal, state, and
local agencies. The museum does charge a separate fee to use the library.
In addition to serving as a
repository for Wright’s vast collection of artifacts, the museum often hosts
educational programming aimed at preserving the story of America’s WWII-era
heroes, including school tours and traveling exhibits.