Military Makeover: Mills County Historical Museum military room has a new look
The military room at the Mills County Historical Museum has a “new and improved” look to it.
Museum director Stephen Hunt said patrons will find that the new military displays are easy to follow, well-organized, engaging and informative.
“We’ve not added display units, but there are many new items and some items were moved around to provide a better overall viewing experience,” Hunt said. “Everything has a number assigned to it that tells you about that particular item. So, when you come in here, you can do a self-guided tour because you can say, ‘Well, what’s item No. 26? It’s a pocket knife, but how about item No. 5 over here? It says No. 5 is a fencing sword from the Germans.’”
Hunt said each display tells a story. For example, in the World War II area, there are side-by-side displays of items local Mills County service members brought home from the war.
“We intermixed as many components into it as possible,” he said. “Because we did fight the Germans, we have German stuff. We also fought the Japanese, so we have Japanese things.”
There’s also a fully-stocked foot locker, to give museum goers a feel for what life was like for a soldier during WWII.
“Everything they own would be in that foot locker,” he said. “ The cigarettes are replicas of how they were boxed, but everything else in there is the real McCoy. It tells a different perspective. This is their life, right there. That’s their entire life.”
Hunt said most of the credit for the enhanced military displays goes to a pair of college students - Lauren Culp and Audrey Zielstra - who worked at the museum and brought their own ideas to fruition.
Culp devoted her entire summer to getting the military displays put together.
“She’s very artistic. She’s really into this stuff,” Hunt said. “Working here for a few years doing this stuff, she made the decision to become a Native American archaeologist and a museum curator.
“There were some things she felt were important. I walked in here some mornings and just kind of walked around in awe of stuff she had put together.”
Zielstra, Hunt said, came up with the idea for the numbering system and the index that accompanies each display. She, too, is studying to be a museum curator, he said.
There are several military medals, ribbons, weapons, uniforms, interpretive panels and photos associated with military personnel from Mills County. There’s even a chaplain display and tributes to local women who have contributed to the military history of Mills County.
Preserving the county’s military history and giving museumgoers a glimpse of what life was like for those who served in our military forces, is a responsibility Hunt embraces and enjoys.
“The biggest historical events in the United States, in my opinion, that affected every community, no matter how big or how small, were the wars,” Hunt said. “The wars touched everybody’s life.”
The Mills County Historical Museum is located in Glenwood Lake Park. Hours are Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday from 1 – 4 p.m.