Musings of a Museum Fanatic: First Division Museum

10.06.2017

First Division Museum



Growing up there are certain memories that you can remember very vividly. For me one of those memories is of the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park. I can remember going there almost every summer to see the museum and enjoy the tank garden. It's always been such a family favorite that it's actually where my brother proposed to Bethany! 




This past year they actually closed the museum to renovated and update the entire exhibit. Last week I finally was able to make it there to see the new exhibits and I was blown away with how fantastic everything looked. I loved that they kept the overall concept of the exhibit and some of the key components the same but improved on them.




The First Division Museum walks you through the history of the "Big Red One"which became the 1st Infantry Division during World War I. This division has see action in every conflict since World War I, except for Korea, and is regularly the first division to deploy. If you're interested to learn more about these amazing heroes check out the 1st Infantry Division part of the website.




Cantigny Park's original owner was Colonel Robert R. McCormick. He served in the 1st Division during World War I and participated in the 1918 Battle of Cantigny. When he returned home he renamed his farm in Wheaton, IL in it's honor.





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The First Division Museum not only walks you through the history of the division but totally immerses you in that history. After you sit and watch the video of the landing on D-Day and you realize that you're in a U-boat about to walk on the beach it's very powerful. You walk out and see the bullets on the ground. It almost feel like when you touch them they'll be warm from just being fired.  















While the core of the historical exhibit stayed the same when you walk across the great hall there is a totally brand spanking new exhibit. This exhibit focuses more on the military today.




There are video oral histories done with veterans and current service men and women. You can read about missions that the 1st Division is completing now, such as peacekeeping missions.





The wow part of the exhibit is the virtual reality. You're able to get on the plane with the 1st Division and go through a training mission. It was really cool. You look up at the sky and turn 360 degrees and can see everything. Pam kept knocking into the wall so you might want to sit in the middle!!





The photos do not do these amazing exhibits justice! You need to head out to Wheaton, IL and enjoy them for yourself. While you're at it don't forget to go for a climb on the tanks!

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