In 1994, the Wright Museum of World War II opened in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, a creation of its visionary founder the late David Wright. For over twenty years, this educational institution has fulfilled David’s dream of creating a public understanding and appreciation of the exceptional contributions on the home front and the battle fields made by World War II-era Americans.
To provide a vivid perspective on the profound and enduring impact of the World War II experience on American society.
To be the preeminent history museum that preserves and promotes a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the enduring contributions made by World War II-era Americans.
The son of a World War II veteran, founder David Wright served as a U.S. Marine during the Korean War. Since he was too young to serve, he experienced WWII on the home front growing up near Worcester, Mass.
David was an avid collector of WWII vintage vehicles for many years. He eventually owned and restored over 50 vehicles, all fully operational. By 1983, he established the E. Stanley Wright Museum Foundation, Inc. in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
Originally, the Museum was a mobile exhibition that David made available to communities around the Northeast for parades and military functions at venues such as the Roosevelt Museum and West Point.
While his vehicle collection was – and continues to be – impressive, David believed that it was imperative to tell the whole story of Americans’ contribution to the war effort. As he began to develop plans for a permanent museum, he felt it necessary to document the great achievements of Americans on the home front, since their commitment played such a crucial role in the Allied victory.
In 1992 David Wright purchased an 8-acre parcel adjacent to Wolfeboro’s Smith River, the former site of the Diamond National sawmill. On July 16, 1994 the doors opened to the museum’s first visitors.
Since then, nearly 300,000 people have visited the Wright Museum. Some visit out of curiosity after having seen the M3A1 Stuart tank protruding from the building’s facade. What they find inside conjures memories for visitors of a certain age. For families visiting the Wright Museum, the exhibits often spur conversations across generations, allowing parents, grandparents, and children to contemplate the achievements of the Greatest Generation.
The Museum accomplishes its mission through careful preservation and thoughtful display of its extensive permanent collection of 1939 – 1945 items; thereby building a reputation as a national repository for historically significant WWII items and memorabilia. Unique to traditional WWII museums, the over 14,000 items in our collection are representative of both the home front and the battle field. These irreplaceable items, together with fully operational military vehicles, introduce visitors to a seminal period in American history. Just as importantly, the Museum places the period into historical context by illustrating the enduring legacy of Americans known today as, “the greatest generation.”
In addition to serving as a knowledgeable guardian of our cultural heritage, the 20,000 sq. ft. Wright Museum offers a variety of educational programs, conducts school tours for students of all ages, and hosts special traveling exhibits relating to the war years. Recent special exhibitions have included D-Day photographs; an Anne Frank show; WW II Quilts; an Associated Press Photography show that contained images from 1939-45; and a Wright Museum-curated show of art work created by a WW II NH soldier/artist.