Tanks, Planes and a Smithsonian Experience at the American Heritage Museum
A Visit to the American Heritage Museum
Tanks, trucks, airplanes, and the stories of the soldiers who operated them. The American Heritage Museum exemplifies the museum experience of the 21st century, and prides itself on adapting to and engaging all visitors.
The long driveway and humble exterior contrast sharply with the experience inside the museum. The tour begins with a high quality production which brings anyone rusty on early American history up to speed with the dawn of the mechanized era. From there, visitors move through the first exhibits as the production becomes more integrated with the artifacts on display. The production concludes and the screen retracts to display the main exhibit hall, and wow. It takes a moment to remember you’re standing in central Massachusetts and not in a Smithsonian in Washington DC.
From the first tanks designed to break the trench stalemate on the western front to the mobile fortresses that raced across Iraq, the American Heritage museum boasts examples from all corners of the 20th century. With the country’s largest collection of tanks open to the public, the American Heritage Museum takes their philosophy of educating people on the stories of soldiers very seriously. The tanks, planes and other artifacts are impeccably restored, maintained and displayed. Most of them are still fully operational and are occasionally brought out for active demonstrations (see “Events”). The layout of the “floor” of the museum leads you through the history in a logical and informative way.
We had the pleasure of meeting Hunter Chaney who told us that parents are told at the beginning what to expect in the museum. It is a war museum and some of the videos may be disturbing to young children. The attention to detail was incredible so it was no surprise that the docents cater their storytelling and tour to each person who walks in the door. They help guide families through the exhibits based on interest or what the child is studying at school all while keeping in mind any children’s ages and sensitivities.
The philosophy conveyed to us by the storytelling we experienced and Hunter’s tour is that history begets history. They have taken these artifacts of war to tell soldiers’ stories, in hopes that by hearing these stories and seeing these imposing machines of war, we learn from history, preserve democracy, and commit warfare solely to the exhibition hall.
Kid Events & Activities
- Every day, the museum has scavenger hunts for kids. These scavenger hunts help focus kids’ learning and offers them a special sticker at the end as a prize!
- Over April school vacation week, the museum will have reenactors present in the museum in uniform to lead living history demonstrations and talks. They will be open every day that week:
- See the Worcester Central Kids Calendar calendar of events for other upcoming demonstrations throughout the year. Coming soon: Tank Demo Weekend and Tanks, Wings & Wheels – Featuring American Elegance. (Event pricing is different than regular admission).
- Adults $20.00
- Children (12 and Under) $10.00
- Seniors (62 plus) $18.00
- Active Duty Military (With ID)/Veterans $18.00
- Children 2 and Under FREE
- Collings Foundation Members FREE
- World War II & Korea Veterans FREE
568 Main Street, Hudson MA (978) 562-9182
Open Wednesdays-Sundays: 10:00am to 5:00pm (Closed Easter Sunday)
Want to make a day of it? Check out our visit to Assabet River Wildlife Refuge just a 5 minute drive down the road.