Stand on the deck of a battleship and envision the moment of victory. Scrunch down as you crawl through a submarine and feel the sensation of complete seclusion. Drive a massive tank as if you were navigating an enemy’s battleground. Step back in time as you walk through a tunnel of cultural history. Museums don’t need to be overly stuffy. Choose a museum where you can enjoy an immersive experience, the visit becomes a fascinating memory instead of just a display case full of archives. We have assembled a list of New England military museums that offer guests a unique perspective — something out of the glass box.
Military museums that honor our dedicated servicemen and women with a unique perspective make learning about history more interesting. When the museum offers guests a hands-on encounter, you are treated to a personal interaction with the way things were. Your appreciation of the fortitude required to protect and serve the U.S. and the perseverance of our dedicated military personnel.
Our list of nine unique military museums is presented in no particular order.
Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Wright Museum Of WWII
Located in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
At the Wright Museum of WWII, you are immersed in the life of the soldier’s family back in America. Life on the homefront takes center stage. Imagine living with ration coupons that were juggled to keep families fed. Where women, for the first time in our history, took on jobs that were traditionally held by men. The museum’s finely crafted tableaus draw you in with intricate historic details giving you the feeling of looking into someone’s home or shop. For the young, it is a peek into what life was like at home during WWII, for the young-at-heart, memories flood back and remind us of how far we have come since that period in our history.
The timeline tunnel is a snapshot into the life and times on the homefront far away from the battlefields. Each room showcases the fashion, music, headlines, and pop culture of the war years.
You will find, of course, a collection of historic military vehicles that take you to the front lines. No military museum would be complete without an armored vehicle or two.
After you have finished exploring the museum, check out our Wolfeboro destination guide. You will find this lakefront village charming. It is a perfect spot for an enjoyable getaway.
2. American Heritage Museum
Located in Hudson, Massachusetts
If you are into tanks, the American Heritage Museum showcases an extensive collection of armored vehicles and wartime tanks. From the WWI Trench Experience Exhibit through WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the War on Terrorism, you will find fascinating displays and equipment that our fearless troops used to fight their best fight. You will be in awe as you are dwarfed by the size of massive equipment on display.
Ever wonder what it is like to drive a monster tank? The museum offers tank driving lessons for those who want to experience what it’s really like to be behind the wheel of an M24 Chaffee or M4 Sherman tank. Don’t want to drive, you can go along for a ride and see the world through the eyes of a gunner or other tank soldier.
In addition to military memorabilia, the museum has an extensive collection of automobiles. The museum houses amazing cars like the 1904 Roadster, a 1914 Stutz Bearcat, a 1932 Duesenberg Phaeton, and many other beautiful classic vehicles. Please note, many of the cars are only viewable during special events. Be sure to check the calendar to see what is on display.
3. Bangor Maine Troop Greeters Challenge Coin Collection
Located in Bangor, Maine
When men and women join forces to support our troops, they can accomplish amazing tasks. A simple act of kindness, a welcoming smile, a heartwarming embrace can set the stage for a positive transition back home.
The Maine Troop Greeters and Museum is a unique collection of military Challenge Coins donated by the more than 1.5 million servicemen and women the troop greeters have welcomed home. The greeters gather when a military airplane is scheduled to land at Bangor International Airport and cheer the troops home offering snacks, cell phones to call home, a sturdy handshake, and a warm hug.
On both sides of the arrival hall, glass cases are filled with over 6,000 Challenge Coins. These medallions are intricately designed to represent a specific military unit and are awarded in recognition of an extraordinary act of service. The artistic designs are fascinating and will captivate your imagination. Servicemen and women have bestowed Challenge Coins on the Maine Troop Greeters in recognition of their warm and welcoming reception upon returning to the States.
When you visit Bangor, you will find our destination guide a perfect resource for where to dine, play, and stay. This charming small city is filled with enchanting woodlands, sumptuous farm-to-table restaurants, and entertaining music concerts.
4. Seabee Museum And Memorial Park
Located in North Kingston, Rhode Island
A Seabee is a WWII veteran who fought while building naval fortifications. They were responsible for constructing assorted structures in over 400 locations. The motto for the over 325,000 Seabees was “We Build, We Fight.”
The Seabee Museum is dedicated to honoring the Naval Construction Battalions who built remote bases for the navy and marines. The first deployment of these skilled craftsmen was in 1942 to Bora Bora to construct infrastructure to support our troops.
The park is home to Quonset Huts, archives, and artifacts related to these talented soldiers.
5. Naval War College Museum
Located in Newport, Rhode Island
The Naval War College Museum is grounded in education and provides visitors with a unique peek into the U.S. Navy. Unless you have access to the naval base, to visit the museum guests must submit a background check form several days prior to their visit.
The Trafalgar and Nelson exhibit, the Faces of the Naval War College exhibit, and the Naval Art exhibits are the cornerstones of the museum. The Naval War College Museum offers visitors a fascinating insider look at the life of a naval officer. If you have a child or grandchild considering joining the navy, a visit to the Naval War College is the perfect spot to explore a naval career.
When you are visiting the Newport area, check out our destination guide for great ideas for activities, dining, and getaways.
6. USS Constitution Museum
Located in Charlestown, Massachusetts
Located in the Charlestown Navy Yard, the USS Constitution Museum is dedicated to telling the history of Old Ironsides and the contributions she made to American history.
America’s oldest warship afloat, the USS Constitution, is served by active U.S. Navy sailors who are interpretive historians guiding guests through the massive ship. Her long-standing service defending the United States is a testament to the men and women who worked and lived on this historic warship.
When you have finished your tour of Old Ironsides and the USS Constitution Museum, there are lots of spots for a sailor to wet his whistle. Our Boston brewery guide is a great place to explore your finely crafted libation options.
7. The Submarine Force Library And Museum
Located in Groton, CT
The Submarine Force Library and Museum is focused on collecting and preserving the U.S. Naval Submarine Force historical legacy. The museum is dedicated to honoring our veterans and offering visitors the opportunity to explore the world of submarines and the men and women that serve on these underwater vessels. Touring the small spaces aboard the USS Nautilus is an eye-opening experience that is not well suited for the severely claustrophobic. Day to day living and working aboard a submarine takes amazing internal fortitude.
Please note that the USS Nautilus is undergoing dry-docking maintenance and is expected to be returned to public viewing late spring/early summer 2022. In lieu of a physical tour, the museum is offering a virtual tour while the submarine is undergoing refurbishment.
8. Springfield Armory National Historic Site
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts
Producing accurate firearms for the troops in an expeditious fashion, was the focus of many facilities during WWII. The Springfield Armory National Historic Site preserves the history of the manufacturing of small firearms detailing the innovations and mechanization of the manufacturing process.
The Wartime Sisters Walking Tour connects visitors by exploring the daily life of two sisters during WWII at the armory. Based on the novel, The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman, visitors can explore the museum grounds with a self-guided tour that takes you on a journey back in time when manufacturing small arms was an integral part of homefront factories.
9. Vermont National Guard Library And Museum
Located in Colchester, Vermont
Home to several helicopters, tanks, trucks, and other military paraphernalia, the Vermont National Guard Library and Museum is dedicated to preserving the artifacts of U.S. military history.
The painting Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia is the museum’s most prized painting measuring 17 feet by 28 feet applied on canvas. Painted by Vermonter Charles H. Andrus, it depicts General Phil Sheridan riding into battle on October 19, 1864.
Please note visitors need to show a photo ID to access Camp Johnson and the museum.
Pro Tip: Exploring museums should be fun and entertaining. Choosing a museum that offers unique experiences and interesting perspectives will make history come to life. Boring museums are a thing of the past, interactive and immersive experiences put you in the shoes of the men and women we are proud to honor. Get out and explore a unique military museum the next time you are traveling, you will almost hear the battle roar.
For more New England history articles, check these out: