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Exhibitions

Civil War Museum

Special Exhibitions

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Printmaking – Pop Culture of the Civil War

June 15, 2024 – August 18, 2024

During the Civil War, printed images had the power to influence perceptions and popular opinion, equal to today’s visual and digital media. The quick rise of popular media during the Civil War had a powerful and lasting impact on our country. This special exhibit of prints from the collection of the Civil War Museum shows the war as it was seen through the most important media of the time, the printed page. 

The Civil War was America’s first illustrated war. At that time, the only view most Americans had of their country—and indeed, the World—came to them through the rapidly growing business of printed media. The war could not be seen from afar by any other means.

Coming Soon

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G.I. Joe: America’s Movable Fighting Man

August 31, 2024 – March 9, 2025

For centuries, children have collected and played with toy soldiers. Early examples of soldiers made from stone, clay, or metal can be traced back to the time of ancient Egypt.

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mass-produced toy soldiers made of lead, tin, cardboard, or molded plastic could be found on the market. These soldiers were favorites of children who set them up and moved them as army groups. But as fun as they were, there was a problem. None of these soldiers could actually move their arms or legs and be posed in different positions.

Then, in 1964 Hassenfeld Brothers (HASBRO) introduced the G.I. Joe action figure. G.I. Joe represented soldiers from the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines and were a huge step up from anything else on the toy soldier market at that time. Their bodies featured 21(!) moving parts and joints. They could kneel, sit, lay down, stand, and bend their knees and elbows. Not only that, each figure came
with basic fatigues, boots, cap, and dog tags while the packaging showed images of additional uniforms, accessories, and vehicles that could be added to make them even more realistic and fun. By 1966, sales of G.I. Joe accounted for 66% of HASBRO’s profits.

As successful as G.I. Joe was, he was also a reflection of culture and tastes. As the Vietnam War escalated in the late 1960s, sales of the action figure dipped as people turned away from things military in nature. In response, Joe took a training hiatus for a few years then returned in the 1970s ready for a life of action and adventure rather than a strictly military one.

From the beginning, G.I. Joe action figures allowed children to explore all kinds of heroic and daring adventures. Kids could create their own scenarios using their imagination rather than being told how to play as in scripted video games. This kind of creative and imaginative play has been important for every generation, and for the past sixty years the G.I. Joe action figure has been leading the charge.

Ongoing Exhibitions

The Fiery Trial

The Fiery Trial tells the personal stories of the men and women of the Upper Middle West – specifically Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Through state-of-the-art museum technology, life-size dioramas, and interactive engaging Exhibition , visitors travel back in history to the social, political, and economic influences that contributed to the Civil War.

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The Fiery Trial

First Floor – admission required

Seeing the Elephant Film

Seeing the Elephant is the term Civil War soldiers used to describe their first experience with combat. This high-tech digital movie experience in The Fiery Trial Exhibition gives visitors a glimpse at “the Elephant.” One of just a handful of venues nationwide using 360º movie technology, this 10-minute film incorporates visual and sound effects as well as ground motion to enhance viewers’ movie experience.

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Seeing the Elephant Film

Inside The Fiery Trial – admission required

Veterans Memorial Gallery

The Civil War Museum is proud to honor all US soldiers and veterans. Reflective of the theme, “Solidarity of Soldiers,” this gallery depicts Civil War soldiers huddled around a campfire under a twilight sky.

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Veterans Memorial Gallery

First Floor

Virtual Exhibitions

Coming soon.

Past Exhibitions

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Faith in the Fight: Religion and the Civil War

September 2, 2023 – June 2, 2024

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I Am a Man: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1970

June 9, 2023 – August 11, 2023

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Ohio: Loyal to the Union

June 11, 2022 – June 4, 2023

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Sacred Scars, Shadowed Ground: Images of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Civil War Battlefields

January 29, 2022 – May 25, 2022

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