Exhibits at the Bong Center

Exhibits

Exhibits

The Center is a tribute to the brave men and women who defended our freedom during the 20th Century.  A visit to the museum is a powerful, emotional experience. Through exhibits, displays, and interviews with veterans, the museum strives to honor all branches of the service by telling the personal stories of their war experiences.

Begin your museum experience by watching our 17 minute introductory movie in the Pearl Harbor Theater.  Stand in a replica WWII control tower and look at a close-up life-size D-Day paratrooper, fully outfitted and hanging “mid-jump”.  Then watch a movie with authentic P-38 footage in our Quonset Hut Theater.   From a mock WWI trench display to a replica nuclear rocket, to memories of the Homefront, the museum features dramatic and thought provoking displays throughout.

Richard I. Bong Story

This exhibit documents Richard’s life growing up on a farm in Northern Wisconsin and his rise to become a nationally known war hero and Medal of Honor recipient. Meet the family that guided him to adulthood and produced the driven yet down-to-earth man he would become. Through pictures and personal artifacts you will get a sense of Richard Bong’s childhood, witness his courtship with Marge, and follow his military career from training to test pilot. You can read more about Richard’s life on his biography page.

In 2018, the exhibit was updated to feature personal items belonging to Richard Bong never before seen on exhibit, as well as a large map display that chronicles his military activities in the South Pacific.

World War II

This exhibit explores the captivating, sobering, and moving stories of how Twin Ports’ men and women experienced the challenges of World War II. It features hundreds of artifacts, military vehicles, interactive displays, and at the center, our restored P-38 airplane set in an immersive South Pacific setting.  We have opened up the P-38 to allow for visitors to walk under the plane for a close-up and new experience with this powerful fighter.

Examine the experiences of those on the home front and how women contributed to the war effort. Families grew victory gardens and dealt with the challenges of rationing. Learn about the national role the Twin Ports played in shipbuilding where workers mobilized to assist in wartime production.

Learn about the contributions of the Merchant Marines, who had a higher percentage of losses than any of the other branches of the military. Listen to the stories of those soldiers who fought and witnessed the atrocities overseas in our oral history kiosk.

This exhibit honors our “greatest generation” and provides insight into some of the people and events that shaped the outcome of WWII.

Korean War

Coming Soon – opening late October/early November 2020

During the Korean War, thousands of Americans fought a harsh war on the Korean peninsula against an extremely determined enemy. This exhibit will tell the story of the war through the experiences, photographs, and oral histories of local veterans. 

Vietnam War

Coming Soon – opening late October/early November 2020

For many Americans the war in Vietnam was the defining event in their lives. It was a conflict that defined an era and divided families. It brought violence both to Vietnam and to the home front. At its peak, over half a million U. S. servicemen were in Vietnam and by the end of the war over 58,000 had sacrificed their lives for their country.

The story of the Vietnam War will be told through pictures, oral histories, and artifacts of local veterans.

Weapons of War

Warfare is in a constant state of evolution. From bolt-action to automatic rifles, whenever there is innovation to the weapons used, there are changes to how wars are fought.  From WWI water cooled machine guns to the M72 LAW (light anti-tank weapon) of the Vietnam Era, you can see how weapons have evolved during the 20th century.  This exhibit features weapons of all types including knives, daggers, bayonets, pistols, rockets and grenades.

Commemorative Air Force

We were excited to partner with the Lake Superior Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force in 2018. The CAF is a group dedicated to restoring, maintaining, and flying WWII aircraft.  To that end, they have space at the Richard I Bong Airport in Superior.  We opened up gallery space to them so that they could share their amazing collection with the public. 

 

The collections included one of the largest collections of German Luftwaffe uniforms in the Midwest and one of the largest military pin collections assembled.  Also on display is a fur lap robe that German military leader Hermann Goring was using when he was captured.