Exhibit Selected for National Award

MADISON, WIS (June 20, 2024) — The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in Nashville, TN proudly announced that the Wisconsin Veterans Museum is the recipient of an Award of Excellence for its exhibit, Souvenirs of Service: the Things They Kept. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 79th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

“I am so proud of the folks at the museum who consistently come up with engaging, compassionate, and unexpected stories,” said Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary-designee James Bond. “We’re lucky to have such excellent stewards of history working on behalf of our state’s veterans.”

The goal of the Souvenirs of Service exhibit is to show the humanity behind the history through artifacts that are not normally on display at a military history museum. By highlighting the common impulse to collect and document the experiences of servicemembers and civilians alike, the museum staff aimed to bridge the expanding military-civilian divide and encourage a deeper understanding of military service.

“We are honored to be selected by our history museum peers for this Award of Excellence from AASLH. It is the culmination of a few years of hard work by our talented staff who set out to tell the story of our Wisconsin veterans from a unique and relatable perspective,” said WVM Director Christopher Kolakowski.

This year, AASLH confers 47 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.

This exhibit includes items collected from the Civil War era to modern-day.  The objects range from artillery shells painted in WWI foxholes to Zippo lighters collected during the Vietnam era. More than 400 photographs, taken by our servicemembers during times of war and peace, have been enlarged  and line the gallery perimeter for viewing. More compelling are the stories that go along with what our friends, relatives, and neighbors have collected and kept.