Member Spotlight: National Museum of the Pacific War

Fredericksburg is a picturesque city of 10,000 inhabitants nestled in the heart of the Texas hill country. Known for its wineries and German restaurants, the central Texas town is also birthplace to World War II U.S. Pacific Navy Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. Near the bustling town square, known as marktplatz, is the National Museum of the Pacific War. On Saturday, January 12th, the institution, also known as the Pacific War Museum, hosted an open house for their Oveta Culp Hobby Education Center's one-year anniversary. Not only was it a celebration of the growth of the museum’s commitment to education but an opportunity to meet Dr. David Shields the museum’s new Education Director.

On that chilly yet sunny Saturday afternoon, visitors were welcomed to the Center, located a block away from the museum grounds, with hot coffee and S’mores to keep them warmed up while they toured the grounds. The limestone building is a space dedicated to sharing the museum’s collection of World War II-era clothing and equipment with online visitors that may never get the opportunity to visit. Former education director, Bryan Degner, dressed in period uniform, explained the museum’s ambitions with distance learning. In December of 2018, Degner beamed into a 4th Grade Classroom in Boerne to test the museum’s capability to enhance the school’s understanding of this part of history. Degner brings guests into his studio space to share how Texas was involved in the war efforts, highlighting, for example, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). The WASP were trained women pilots that tested aircraft, ferried aircraft, and trained other pilots and several of their uniforms are on display. The museum’s goal is to grow this program to reach more schools and students. One idea is to create virtual field trips in the museum via iPad.

Positioned adjacent to the Education Center is the Combat Zone, an expansive living history site that provides an opportunity to get up and close with a fleet of vehicles including boats, tanks, and other battlefield equipment. This Hollywood film studio-quality space comes to life several times of year as they reenact tropical battles. Living History Coordinator Jeff Copsetta gives tours of the hybrid space that is both landscape and interior museum space. The interior is outfitted with World War II era boats and aircraft as well as multi-touch monitors that help provide greater context to the artifacts on display. TAM recognizes the National Museum of the Pacific War for its commitment to education and is honored to have them as one of the many great museums that are TAM institutional members.

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