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Massive New Military History Center Opens in Southeast Wisconsin

Massive New Military History Center Opens in Southeast Wisconsin

May 29, 2024 8:14 AM CDT
By: Stuart J. Wattles

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SOMERS, Wis. (Civic Media) — A massive new facility dedicated to preserving and showcasing military history opened its doors in Kenosha County on Saturday. The Pritzker Military Archives Center held its grand opening with ceremonies, exhibits and behind-the-scenes tours at the 50,000-square-foot building.

The $35 million center in Somers is home to the Pritzker Military Museum & Library’s collection of over 120,000 artifacts, books, images, recordings and manuscripts related to military conflicts throughout history. It relocated from its former home in downtown Chicago.

The effort is led by Jennifer Pritzker, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard who founded the museum and library in 2003. Pritzker, a cousin of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, funded the project through her Pritzker Military Foundation. 

The center was designed by renowned architect Helmut Jahn as his final project before his sudden death in May 2021. It sits on a 20-acre property on Highway E, just off I-94 and features a 9,400-square-foot gallery with immersive exhibits on World War II, the Vietnam War and other conflicts.

Interactive displays allow visitors to experience recreated environments like a World War II communications trench and Vietnam War medical triage tent. Walking paths wind through the grounds, which have solar panels and room for future expansion.

In addition to the physical museum space, the Pritzker Military Archives Center is working to make its collections available digitally for online viewing and research.

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