New Family Programming at Pritzker Military Museum Educates and Excites

At Chicago’s Pritzker Military Museum & Library, families can learn the unique value of wartime communication at the first of several family programs.

Curious kids love to learn about secret codes and explore new ways of communicating. But what does it mean when a secret code tapped on a wall or door is your only way to send a message to another person? Through an immersive new family program at Chicago’s Pritzker Military Museum & Library, kids and their families can learn firsthand the value of communication during times of war. The June 11, 2022, program Taps on the Wall: Learning to Communicate explores the wider subject of communication, says Liz Eberlein, Associate Director of Programs at Pritzker Military Museum & Library.

“We are very excited to have our very first family program, and this program ties in with our new Prisoner of War exhibit (Life Behind the Wire: Prisoners of War) which opens May 12,” says Eberlein. Major General John L. Borling, Chicago native and retired servicemember of the United States Air Force, will share his stories of communication as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Children can practice writing and sending their own messages using the POW tap code.

“The goal of the family program is for participants to learn about the importance of communication and the importance of listening,” Eberlein explains. “Families can discover whether it’s more difficult to send or receive messages and why the POWs depended on their messages to be received accurately. Our hope is that kids will have fun putting what they have learned into practice.”

Children 7 to 11 are just the right age to enjoy this free program, though families with children of all ages are encouraged to attend and have fun learning at whatever level works best for them.

Immersive experiences at Pritzker Military Museum

Family programming is new this year to Pritzker Military Museum & Library and designed with intention to help children and their families begin to explore the more complex subjects related to military history, Eberlein says.

“We are providing an immersive learning experience to provoke the imagination and offer a unique environment for quality time for the whole family,” she says. “There’s so much to learn and those interested in history, art, science and engineering will especially enjoy our programming. We are really excited to capture interest through dynamic and engaging family programs.”

Programs for July and August are already in the making and families can visit Pritzker Military Museum & Library’s website to follow the progress of these events. Eberlein shares a sneak peek at upcoming programs, hinting that they may focus on observation and record-keeping through journaling and space exploration, astronauts and rockets!

“I can tell you that our July program will highlight an artifact from our exhibit, which is a beautiful journal written by a British POW and it’s a wonderful introduction to journaling for kids,” Eberlein says.

Located on South Michigan Avenue, steps from the Art Institute of Chicago, Pritzker Military Museum & Library provides wonderful family learning experiences that can serve as springboards for family conversations about history and the role of the U.S. military in our democracy and in world affairs.

“I really feel that museums are ideal spaces for kids to learn. Museums can help kids make sense of the world, where they begin to expand their thinking in new and complex ways,” Eberlein says. Any child who has curiosity about the world and about how things work or who has demonstrated interest in history and how historic events relate to today are great candidates for Pritzker Military Museum & Library’s family programs and exhibits.

“They don’t have to even know anything about military history or be experts, but visiting our museum and attending our programs can motivate and encourage kids to ask questions and spark interest in history and its complexities,” she says.

Learn more about Pritzker Military Museum & Library and register for the free June 11, 2022, family program, Taps on the Wall: Learning to Communicate at pritzkermilitary.org.

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