Monday, July 1, 2013

The Wright Museum

This is the second post in a series I'm calling "20th Century Americana".  These posts describe things around New England from our recent past that should be, or are just starting to be recognized as important pieces of American history.  Your family history might involve some of the places and artifacts in these posts.

We recently drove the little red convertible up to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire to visit the Wright Museum at 77 Center Street.  This museum "collects, cares for and exhibits artifacts illustrating the heroic efforts of ordinary people living during extraordinary times."  The focus of the museum is the years 1939 to 1945, including the home front and the life of the military men and women during World War II.

What I loved about this museum is that most of the artifacts, including the military vehicles are in WORKING order.  Not only are they working, but they take them out of the museum for people to ride around Wolfeboro.  Your next chance to ride in one of these vehicles is Sunday, July 14th from 11am to 3pm, with a BBQ lunch, demonstrations by WWII re-enactors and special displays from private collections.

The very first gallery of the museum focuses on the homefront in the years just before and during World War II.   I saw many items here I remember my father had saved from his childhood during the depression and war, including ration stamps, propaganda posters, and Scouting items.  I also saw many items I remember hearing family members talk about, such as Victory Gardens, scrap metal drives, and V-mail (Victory mail was the way family members corresponded with soldiers).  

A typical 1940s kitchen. I remember my grandmother's kitchen still looked like this in the 1960s with a wringer washer and similar wallpapers and furniture. I wasn't around during World War II, but many things in the Wright Museum were a walk down memory lane for me!

This display showed how Americans supported the United Kingdom during World War II.  I remember my grandmother talking about how she joined a woman's group called "Knittin' for Britain".  These are the types of memories that are being lost as we lose the "Greatest Generation" who lived during these war years. I also remembered that my grandfather was the neighbor air raid warden during the war, and at the Wright Museum I learned more about what that job entailed.

The Time Tunnel is a series of seven galleries exhibiting artifacts, music, movies, clothing and other memorablia from the years 1939 to 1945.  We had a lot of fun looking at the collections, and I wish my parents had been with me.  I know I have heard family members reminisce about most of the items we were looking at here in the Time Tunnel. 

Vincent loved the tanks!  The Sherman tank was saved from being a target at a bombing range, and brought to the Wright Museum and completely restored into working order. 

This photograph looks like a display of model military vehicles, but these are actual tanks, jeeps, trucks, and motorcycles from the frontlines ofWorld War II.  One of the tanks is a Pershing used to capture the bridge at Remagen, Germany (Did you ever see that movie?).  Only three tanks made it across that bridge.  Even this tank is still in working order.  You can see a video of the tank driving around Wolfeboro at this link here: 

Upstairs at the museum there was a great film made by some WASPs years after their WWII service.  They reminisce about some daring flights, and remember some of the women lost in action.  I was very surprised to learn that these women were not entitled to military benefits, including funerals, even though they were lost in action. This gallery also had a great collection of uniforms.  The museum owns over 2,000 pieces of military and civilian clothing.

There are too many historical goodies to mention in this blog post at the Wright Museum.  You'll just have to visit on your own!  Bring along your older family members, and you just might learn some great family stories to add to your genealogy research.

For more information:

The Wright Museum
77 Center Street
Wolfeboro, NH
(603) 569-1212

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Thanks for posting. I had never heard of this museum. I'm planning a visit soon!

  2. This sounds extremely cool. I remember WWII somewhat, because I was born when my father was in Europe with the Army during that war. I'm so glad people are preserving memories of the way it was then. Many things to remember.

  3. Heather, thanks for sharing! I knew Dave Wright who founded the museum, and my Dad worked there for years (he died before completing the Time Tunnel). It is a special place.