In Boalsburg, the Centre County village with claims to being the founding site for Memorial Day is one of the showcases for Pennsylvania’s Military History. The Pennsylvania Military Museum while documenting History will also soon be in a renovation phase.
You may think of a Museum as a collection, a collection of great or rare items, but take a different perspective, think of a Museum as a box. “So you can open it up and there are so many opportunities to make connections that usually the most important part of the interpretive equation is the audience. Making a way to make that connection. That’s usually the hardest, but the most important is making the connection to the object.” At the Pennsylvania Military Museum, the stories are the forefront. The bumper of military vehicle for instance. “Whenever you get into the story side of it, whenever you look at the bumper,that tells a story as well. Its like a license plate. 28th division, First Battalion, 111th, Headquarters 74.” Our Story Teller is Tyler Gum, the Museum Director. Gum adding: “You want to make sure we do them justice and respect for the stories were telling. For all of our Military Branches, for the stories we commemorate and teach and preserve here. Making sure we do it right here, because sometimes you only get one chance.”
The grounds of the Military Museum, donated by the Boal Family in Boalsburg — originally as a place for Military drills. Outside 30 monuments, each telling a story, from various eras — Pennyslvania’s 28th Division, the Pennsylvania National Guard, this one a replica of a Memorial built in Baghdad in 2006 complete with dog tags for wind chimes. Gum saying: “As you look inside the obelisk, or listen closely when the breeze blows,are the dog tags of the fallen.Those spirits are raised through the obelisk, to the top, through the broken Humvee glass, as they say, to the heavens above.”
The Museum building opened in 1969. The past year having an impact on renovation plans. There are permanent displays here, there are other temporary exhibits, and others rarely seen by the public. But the display format will be changing. The State’s Military History, and emphasis here. Gum adding: “What’s fascinating with the Studebaker wagon is its only one or two that we know of right now. The Studebaker brothers were from Pennsylvania, before moving to Indiana, and started the Studebaker Wagon Company. Its an awesome Pennsylvania connection.”
You may not think of landlocked Boalsburg as a harbor for Naval History, but as Gum says: “Being we have so much of her history here for the Commonwealth, most folks refer to us as the home part for the USS Pennsylvania.” At the Pennsylvania Military Museum, more than 10 thousand artifacts, telling the stories about their development and deployment, and the Military Personnel directly tied to them, along with remembering the sacrifices and the lives lost, and why that history remains important today.