American Heritage Museum offers guests a trip back in time

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American Heritage Museum president Rob Collings stands with young patrons marveling at the “Clash of Steel” exhibit at the American Heritage Museum. (Photo/submitted)

HUDSON – History is at your fingertips everywhere you look in the American Heritage Museum in Hudson. 

At the museum, displays featuring military tanks, historic aircraft, and classic cars offer visitors an unforgettable interactive experience.  

“We strive to engage people in history and excite them to want to learn more,” Director of Marketing and Communications Hunter Chaney said in a recent interview. “When people come here, they see that it’s unique. There’s nothing quite like it in the country.” 

The 66,000-square-foot museum officially opened in the summer of 2019. It was created by the Collings Foundation, which has presented interactive history-related displays and shows locally and throughout the country since 1979. 

The museum traces war conflicts from the Revolutionary War to modern-day and serves as the home to several tanks and artifacts that are the only ones on public display in North America. 

“As a relatively new museum, after COVID hit, we were pretty much closed down through 2020 and only opened in a limited fashion in 2021,” Chaney explained. “So far this year we’ve been able to stretch our wings a little bit. We aim to specialize in the operation of historical artifacts and want to impress a tactile sense of history through our museum experience.” 

When a visitor walks inside the museum, one of the most impactful exhibits they will encounter is the building’s War Clouds exhibit, which explores the rise of fascism, the incursion of imperial Japan and the eventual attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. 

“When people see how the exhibits are laid out chronologically through World War II, they’re flabbergasted and their jaws drop,” Chaney said.  

Through these exhibits, visitors can see a variety of rare relics such as the last surviving example of the Type 4 Ho-Ro Tank, which saw combat as part of the 2nd Tank Division with the Japanese Fourteenth Area Army during the Philippines Campaign in World War II’s final year. 

Captured on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, the Ho-Ro Tank is on loan to the museum from the National Museum of the Marine Corps.  

All vehicles and artifacts in the museum have been restored to appear as they were when they were initially used during combat. 

“People can see what the tanks used to look like from World War I all the way up to the Gulf and Iraq Wars,” Chaney said, noting that the museum offers WWII tank driving instruction programs as well.  

“When you’re driving a tank, you can experience what a young soldier may have seen,” Chaney said. 

Speaking of young guests, it is part of the museum’s mission to pass along knowledge to the next generation. As a result, every museum exhibit is aligned with Massachusetts’ education standards.  

“We’ve worked with teachers to come up with tours for students that are connected to the subject matter they’re teaching in the classroom,” Chaney said. “We are striving to be a real tool and resource for schools in the area. There are so many things in history we need to pay attention to and our museum is a center of discovery for that.” 

Throughout this summer and into the fall, the museum will hold several living history events as part of its effort to offer interactive experiences. 

In October, the museum will then host its biggest event, the Battle for the Airfield World War II reenactment, which draws more than 350 reenactors to participate in two “battles” per day.  

For more detailed information about these events and the museum in general, go to www.americanheritagemuseum.org. 

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