Wars are a topic with which some young history fans are obsessed. As an American history museum, we want to inspire kids to love learning about all aspects of history in complex, but also age appropriate ways. Making the realities of war comprehensible for a young audience is a difficult endeavor.
On October 4th, we opened a groundbreaking exhibition at our Museum: The Vietnam War: 1945-1975. This exhibition will explore how the US got involved in Vietnam immediately after World War II, why and how we ended up fighting a war there, protest against and support of the war, the experiences of US and Vietnamese soldiers, and the war’s aftermath and legacy (among other things). Understanding this history is tough even for adults, but we wanted to make sure families could also get something out of the exhibition. Thanks to generous funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, we’ve developed a family guide for kids ages 12 and up and their adults to use as they walk through the galleries.
Families can pick up this guide booklet and golf pencils at the entrance to the exhibition. The guide moves families through the exhibition by asking questions or suggesting activities related to a series of artifacts or sections of the show. While graphic and violent content appears throughout the galleries, this guide will help families make choices about which content they feel it’s important to view or not. We recommend families use this guide to explore together, so everyone can be part of meaty discussions about the war. Check out a sample page of the guide below.
The Vietnam War: 1945-1975 will be on view from October 4, 2017 through April 22, 2018. Family guides will be available for free in the exhibition every day. If you want to learn even more about Vietnam as a family, make sure to join us for some special family programs related to it, such as our exploration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s groundbreaking speech on the war, or our afternoon with the Robert Ellsberg, son of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, in conversation with award-winning author Steve Sheinkin. Also stay tuned for blog posts about our two meetings of the Reading into History Family Book Club which will feature books about different aspects of the Vietnam War.
Written by Rachel Walman