The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

National Veterans Art Museum Holds Grand Re-Opening For “The Things They Carried” Exhibit

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 13, 2014 4:00PM

Photo credit: misterbuckwheattree

Art is about stories, the ones the author carefully breathes life into on their canvasses and the stories we bring to it from our own lives and experiences. In the case of the 2500 piece collection at the National Veterans Art Museum, it’s about the stories of those who have survived war, with the goal of inspiring “greater understanding of the impact of war through the collection, preservation, and exhibition of art created by veterans of all U.S. military conflicts.”

Tim O’ Brien’s book, The Things They Carried, is also about stories—the stories of Vietnam and the soldiers of the Alpha Company. Its focus is not only the conflict and conditions though, it’s the individual soldiers, their lives, loves, quirks, triumphs and failures, and the relationship between the men.

This makes the museum and the book a perfect match, and today marks the grand opening of the NVAM’s The Things They Carried exhibit. The exhibit has been re-imagined and moved to a new gallery, with the hopes of providing a more “interactive, comprehensive virtual experience.” The reception itself will run from noon to five p.m., and features guest speakers like Army Reserve Major Ned Ricks, Executive Director Levi Moore, and Education Coordinator Christine Bespalec-Davis.

Both the book and the exhibit focus on trying to find out “how to tell a true war story” through the lives and experiences of the people who were there. The exhibit employs the elements of storytelling to this end, literally exploring who, what, when,w here and why; emphasizing visuals and first person storytelling; and ending with a walk into a Vietnam-era tented shelter to try to bring visitors closer to the experiences soldiers had in the field at the time.

This exhibit was already a central one to the museum, and we’re excited to see it expanded and made more intimate. Take some time out to visit the National Veteran’s Museum and see this important work. Hours and information can be found here.