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The history, the people and the stories of the Upper Midwest



Sacred Scars, Shadowed Ground – Battlefield Photographs by Larry Stuart

On display January 29 – May 29

This visual narrative of twenty-five archival photo prints captures the emotional essence of the famous and forgotten stories of the battlefields of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County.

A statement from artist Larry Stuart:

“Sacred Scars, Shadowed Ground is a visual narrative of my walks on the battlefields of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County. I spent a week observing and listening to these fields, trying to grasp the emotion of the ground. Today, the battlefields are beautiful, tranquil examples of central Virginia countryside, but we know that they hold stories of sadness, horror, bravery, courage, sacrifice, rage, fear and relief. Some of the stories are famous. Most were forgotten almost as quickly as they began, lost in the blood and chaos of war. Many stories include some of the most famous people in American history, but a vast majority are of anonymous men and women. Native Americans speak often about “listening to the land,” connecting with an environment that has strong feelings associated with it. I’ve tried to listen to these fields and capture with my images the emotional essence of the stories that are still being written.

The work I create is expressionistic and pictorial; I’m attempting to express how I felt about a place, as well as what I saw. Artistic decisions about subject, color palette, texture, composition and light reflect my feelings of loss and sadness, mystery and melancholy. The edge of the day magnifies these emotions, such as when the light before sunrise softens harsh shadows, or when the moon stands sentinel over the field of souls.

I hope that my reverence for these hallowed places is evident. Some of them are a part of my personal story. If I am able to create a new way for you, the viewer, to imagine these fields and to hear this ground, then I’ve been successful in my endeavor.”



Loyal to the Union: Ohio in the Civil War

On display June 11, 2022 through June 4, 2023

Explore the people and events that made the Buckeye state unique and so important to the Union cause.

Ohio joined the Union in 1803 as the 17th state, and was a major agricultural, economic, educational, and intellectual force in pre-Civil War America.  At the time of the Civil War, Ohio was the oldest and most established state in the Upper Middle West.

It can be argued that no northern state was more important to the Union cause than Ohio.  Its size, location, and its southern borders with Virginia and Kentucky made it geographically important.  The Ohio River and a well-established network of railroads moved troops, food and supplies.  Ohio contributed more soldiers per capita to the Union Army than any other northern state.  Ohio’s location made it a major route for African American freedom seekers traveling to Canada.  Five Ohioans who served in the Union Army went on to become president of the United States.



The Fiery Trial

Permanent Exhibit

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 exhibits, visitors travel back in history to the social, political, and economic influences that contributed to the Civil War.

From the home front, to the railroad and waterways, to the battlefront and back home again, the Civil War is seen through the eyes of soldiers, nurses, spouses, children, clergymen, slaves, tradesmen, and the others who lived it. Experience the incredible logistics and resources that were required to mount the war effort, and the deep emotions that tore families apart.

Admission fees apply


Seeing the Elephant

Permanent Exhibit






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 exhibit gives visitors a glimpse at “the Elephant.” One of just a handful of venues nationwide using 360° movie technology, this 10-minute film incorporates visual and sound effects as well as ground motion to enhance viewers’ movie experience.

The story follows three characters: a young man seeking adventure, a patriotic family man, and an abolitionist – from enlistment to their first taste of combat. All three face battle together and ultimately deal with the consequences of war. Mr. Bill Kurtis narrates the film.

The 10-minute film plays on the hour in The Fiery Trial gallery. Admission fees apply.


Veterans Memorial Gallery

Permanent Gallery

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. Surrounding them are life-size soldiers from the Revolutionary War to present day conflicts. These soldiers all have a common bond — the waiting, the anxiety and the camaraderie shared in those quiet moments between battles. They share a common sense of duty, patriotism and honor, no matter where or when they serve or have served our nation.

Around the gallery perimeter are displays of artifacts and memorabilia from each war. The Veterans Terrace on the exterior of the Museum surrounds the gallery. The bricks in the terrace honor veterans of all wars.