HUDSON – It’s not just the equipment, it’s the stories behind them.
Such is the essence of the American Heritage Museum at the Collings Foundation and its collection of rare wartime artifacts. With the goal of preserving and exhibiting a collection of historical relics, the American Heritage Museum fosters an interactive experience for its visitors.
“We are an organization of living history experts. We engage and excite people into wanting to know more about American history and the impact of war,” said Hunter Chaney, Director of Marketing and Communications.
The museum offers three distinct collections on exhibit: the American Heritage tank collection; the American Aircraft collection; and a collection of classic cars, many of which were used during wartime.
The tank collection at the American Heritage Museum was established when the family of collector Jacques M. Littlefield selected the Collings Foundation to receive Littlefield’s extensive array of tanks and artifacts.
“The pieces that were most important to Littlefield’s core collection are displayed in the museum. The remainder were auctioned to fund the museum’s 66,000 square foot building,” said Chaney. “The M5 Stuart in the exhibit was the first tank that Littleton procured.”
The Collings Foundation is known for its operation of historic aircraft for over 30 years, having hosted interactive flying memorials each year. The tank exhibit at the museum opened just four years ago.
“We opened at the end of 2019 but had to close during COVID. This year we are finally able to stretch our wings and invite the public in,” said Chaney. “Our engagement with the public has grown exponentially, including school groups coming in.”
The exhibit at American Heritage Museum starts with the Revolutionary War and goes all the way up to current conflicts.
“Our museum is not just a collection but a memorial to those who have served our country in times of war. We have veterans come and talk about their experiences and the ravages of war,” said Chaney.
The museum offers monthly events from May to October. On May 27th and 28th, it will host a WWII Tank Demonstration Weekend, which will feature tanks being operated outdoors. In June is Wings and Wheels, a 1920’s pageant of classic vehicles and aircraft.
“The American Heritage Museum is the only museum like this in North America. The rarity of our collection is unmatched,” said Chaney.
A recent addition to the museum is reconstruction of the Hoa Lo Prison of North Vietnam, also known as the Hanoi Hilton.
“We invited POWs to help with the reconstruction. Working on the project helped them come full circle and reach a point of peace,” said Chaney. “If we forget history, we are bound to repeat it. Our methods of engagement help ensure that history is remembered.”
Learn more about the American Heritage Museum at https://www.americanheritagemuseum.org and visit the museum at 568 Main Street in Hudson, MA.
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