Interested in military history? Want to explore the wars we’ve fought and learn about the soldiers we’ve recognized? Then perhaps it’s time for a trip downtown.
The Pritzker Military Museum & Library, located on Michigan Ave. south of the Mag Mile, is home to an extensive and ever-growing collection of over 90,000 items—books, periodicals, rare books, archival materials, journals, rosters, and other primary-source documents on military history and affairs. Right now, it’s offering several interesting special exhibits to bring our military history into focus.
In “Faces of War: Documenting The Vietnam War From The Front Lines,” still and motion images from soldiers who served in the Department of the Army Special Photographic Office (DASPO) provide an unfiltered look of the Vietnam War as it was experienced by some of the 3.4 million American who served in the Southeast Asian Theater. The exhibit runs through November 2017.
“Hunting Charlie: Finding The Enemy In The Vietnam War” features a point-counterpoint perspective through original art pieces. These rarely-seen works include North Vietnamese propaganda art, political cartoons, and reflections from U.S. combat veterans, and is on display through November 2017.
The museum also features the Medal of Honor exhibit gallery, highlighting recipients of the country’s highest award for valor in combat. Exhibit highlights include WWII U.S. Marine Corps veteran Hershel “Woody” William’s citation and presentation Medal of Honor. Visitors can also view a rotating gallery of individual soldier’s collections from every branch of the United States military.
The Museum & Library’s website also contains online-only exhibitions, including “The General: William Levine, Citizen Soldier And Liberator,” focusing on a Highland Park WWII veteran who helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp and whose family donated his memorabilia to the institution in 2013.
The museum hosts a range of events designed to bring people together on a common topic. Saturday afternoon movies on films relating to the military, lectures, and more are on the schedule. Saturday matinee movies begin at 1:00 pm and feature movies from the Museum & Library’s collection. Author Andrew Carroll visits next Tuesday (4/25) to talk about his new book “My Fellow Soldiers,” about General John Pershing and American soldiers in WWI. Look for additional events in May!
The library holds over 60,000 volumes and spans history, with titles about countries, cultures, and branches of the U.S. military. You can do genealogy research here to find out about family legacies, and veterans and their families can learn about the resources available to them in the Veterans Information Center located on the second floor. With an appointment, you can even request to see a book in the Rare Book room. On the Museum & Library’s website you can gain access to hundreds of past episodes of the institution’s two television series, Pritzker Military Presents and Citizen Soldier.
Information for Visitors
The Museum is located at 104 S. Michigan Ave., right across from Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. It is open seven days a week, and admission costs $5. It’s free for visitors with an active military I.D., Chicago fire and police and children under 18. Free days are offer throughout the year and coincide with important dates in military history. The next free day will be May 9, the birthday of the Illinois National Guard. Tours are offered at 11 a.m. daily (except Sundays, when the museum opens at noon). For more information, visit visit www.pritzkermilitary.org.