Collections | Internships | Collections Questions


In 2000, the Bong Veterans Center accepted its first item into the collection when the American Legion Post 435 donated the P-38 airplane. Three years later, when the museum opened its doors in 2003, we already had a substantial collection of WWII items donated from across the country by museum supporters. For the first five years, the mission of the museum was to collect and tell the stories of U.S. WWII veterans and participants. In 2008, the museum changed its name and mission. The Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center (BVHC) became a repository for original artifacts and documents relating to the U.S. veterans experience from WWII to present day. Housed in environmentally stable conditions in state of the art museum quality compact storage system, we have built a three dimensional collection that now includes over 10,000 artifacts. These include uniforms, equipment, weapons, souvenirs, and personal items.
In addition to the three dimensional collection, the museum also houses a military library & archives containing over 3,000 books, personal manuscripts, yearbooks, personal letters and diaries, photographs, scrapbooks and newspapers.
Collections of note:

  • Richard Bong Collection: includes original letters written by Richard to his family, flight logs, military records, family ephemera, and photographs.
  • Walter Butler Shipyards Collection: photographs, Zenith Bulletins, ephemera
  • American Legion Post 435 Collection – membership logs, photographs, auxiliary
  •  Personal Papers collections – letter and military documents from local servicemen and women.

To ensure the stories of the veteran experience are not lost for future generations, the Museum continues to seek additions to its collection. Please contact us to learn how you can help the Museum fulfill its mission.


The Richard Bong Veterans Historical Center is committed to providing a learning experience for those interested in pursuing a career in the museum or history field. We offer hands-on opportunities coupled with an overview of museum operations through our internship program. The needs of the Museum and those of the prospective intern are taken into consideration during the selection process.
Projects may include exhibition development and installation, collections care, processing, research, and educational program development.
Interns who are working toward college credit must make all arrangements through their own colleges. Museum staff will gladly complete the required paperwork provided by the college. It is the responsibility of the intern to make sure they fulfill all requirements for credit.
If you are interested in an internship please contact our curator, Briana at  fiandt{at} for more information.

FAQ - Collections

Can I just drop items off that I want to donate?
A donation is a legal process. It involves a legal transfer of title from you to BVHC. You may drop an item off at BVHC, but it doesn’t legally belong to BVHC until a donor form is signed completing a transaction. This is why BVHC frowns on anonymous donations. When a donor does not wish to leave their name and contact information, a legal transfer of title cannot happen and BVHC may not be able to consider the item donated.  For this reason we require all donors to schedule an appointment with our Curator to discuss their donation and ensure the appropriate paperwork is completed.

Why isn’t everything on exhibit?
The museum has two main functions in regard to the collection. First, it preserves its donated items for perpetuity. Safe storage methods are used to make sure that what is donated today can be seen decades into the future. Secondly, it makes items available for research. The museum may use the item in an exhibit for a short time, but the item is always available for anyone to study even if the general public doesn’t see the item exhibited.

What happens to my items when they go off of exhibit?
Items in the collection cannot be on exhibit forever. Exhibiting items inherently damages them, so periods of rest and rotation are necessary to extend the lifetime of the item. Once removed from an exhibit, items are returned to storage and are preserved, awaiting the next time they are needed in an exhibit.
Additionally, items on exhibit are still available for loans to other museums and for use in BVHC programs. The item’s life does not end when it is no longer on exhibit to the public.

Can I have my items back if BVHC is not displaying them?
At the time of donation, legal possession of the item is transferred to BVHC. BVHC holds its items in the public trust. ‘In the public trust’ means that the public has ownership of the item as a significant piece of community history. The item no longer belongs to one person but to the entire community.

Can I have my items back over the holidays or for a family reunion?
BVHC does loan items but only to organizations and not to individuals. Again, the items at the museum are held in the public trust, so it is only fair to loan out items that can be enjoyed publically, rather than privately. If you have a desire to see an item from your family’s history during the holidays or a family reunion, you are encouraged to contact the museum to set up a time to view it on site.

Does the museum take long term loans?
The short answer to this questions is that no, BVHC does not take items on long-term loan. BVHC makes loans renewable every two years so that items may appear to be at the museum long-term, but really the lender or BVHC has the option to discontinue the loan at any time. Renewing the loan allows the museum and the lender to remain in contact and to respect wishes regarding changes in the loan or ownership during the loan period.

How can I loan an item to BVHC?
BVHC does not take items without a specific and immediate need for the item, usually as it relates to an exhibit. If you have something that you think would be of interest to the museum, please contact the museum and describe your item. BVHC will note the information and your contact information and keep it on file for a future exhibit that your item may fit. BVHC will not accept an item on loan just to keep it in storage with no future exhibit planned for its use.

I don’t want to donate my item now, but may want to later. What should I do?
BVHC does not want the public to donate items that are still important family pieces or that a family member will continue to treasure. Staff at BVHC can work with you to figure out the best preservation plan for your item while it is still in your possession. If and when the time comes that the item is no longer cared for or your family no longer wants to keep it, please contact BVHC to inquire about donating it. Many families find relief and take pride in the fact that their family items enter the public domain and will be preserved in a museum where all family members and generations to come will be able to enjoy them.

My grandfather gave me his WWII rifle. Can you tell me what it’s worth?
Federal law prohibits museums from providing appraisal services to patrons. The American Society of Appraisers and Appraisers Association of America can provide a state-by-state list of accredited appraisers arranged by subject category.

American Society of Appraisers
Email: gro.sresiarppa@ofniasa
Appraisers Association of America
Email: gro.noitaicossasresiarppa@slarrefer

Does the museum ever purchase items for its collection?
With very few exceptions, the museum’s permanent collection grows only through donations.