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Life Behind the Wire: Prisoners of War Exhibit Opens at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library

A riveting exhibition highlighting never-before-seen collections from prisoners of war exposing the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of life in captivity

Life Behind the Wire: Prisoners of War

The Pritzker Military Museum & Library (PMML) is proud to announce its newest exhibit, "Life Behind the Wire: Prisoners of War."
The Pritzker Military Museum & Library (PMML) is proud to announce its newest exhibit, “Life Behind the Wire: Prisoners of War.”

CHICAGO, IL, April 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via — The Pritzker Military Museum & Library (PMML) is proud to announce its newest exhibit, “Life Behind the Wire: Prisoners of War,” opening to the public on Thursday, May 12th. The exhibition addresses what happens when a soldier, sailor, airman or marine is captured during war and provides insight into the drastic differences that exist between varying prisoner of war (POW) experiences. The experience was different for each individual forced to endure capture by the enemy. Food was scarce for some, others received adequate meals, exercise and comradery. Some endured long hours of work and many were limited to just a few words for outside communication.

“Sharing the untold stories of Prisoners of War is vital to our mission,” stated Colonel (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Founder of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. “We are honored to tell the stories of many brave POWs. This new exhibit explores life behind the wire and how those experiences highlight the perseverance of the citizen soldier when faced with insurmountable odds. 

This extraordinary exhibit highlights veterans’ experiences during World War II and Vietnam through stories that expose the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of life in captivity. Drawn from the special collections and archives of the PMML, along with never-before-seen POW materials on loan to the Museum, guests can explore artifacts, archival materials, photographs, and oral histories that examine international laws pertaining to POWs and day-to-day life in a POW camp.

Attendees of this exhibit will learn several things about the POWs including their living conditions, different foods that they ate, topics that they wrote about, successful and unsuccessful ways that prisoners attempted to escape, sports that interested them, medical treatments, abuse and much more.

“What makes this exhibit so unique is that these are real POWs experiences and untold stories,” explains Museum & Library Curator James Brundage. “It is one thing to discuss what it was like to be a POW during the WWII and Vietnam, but it is another to give attendees visuals to help imagine what life was like for these individuals. This exhibit helps to reassure POWs that their experiences still matter today.”

“The PMML remains dedicated to educating the public about military history and how it directly impacts current happenings,” said Susan Rifkin, Pritzker Military Museum & Library Interim President. “Our new exhibit will do just that as we use veterans’ experiences to illustrate how the POW experience changed throughout American military history and how POW perspectives fit into the larger narratives of war.”

At this time there are no times entries or reservations needed for admission. General admission to the Museum & Library is $10.00. Seniors, students and teachers with valid ID is $8.00, and admission is free for children under 12 and Active Military. Learn more about the “Life Behind the Wire: Prisoners of War” exhibit on the PMML website. Become a PMML member today to get a sneak peek of the exhibit with a guided Curator tour.




About Pritzker Military Museum & Library

The Pritzker Military Museum & Library aims to increase the public’s understanding of military history, military affairs, and national security by providing a forum for the study and exploration of our military – past, present, and future – with a specific focus on their stories, sacrifices, and values. With national and global reach, these spaces and events aim to share the stories of those who served and their contributions as citizen soldiers, helping citizens everywhere appreciate the relationship between the armed forces and the civilians whose freedoms they protect. A non-governmental, non-partisan organization, the Museum & Library features diverse collections, scholarly initiatives, and public programs from its flagship center in downtown Chicago to its world-class research center and park currently under construction in Somers, Wisconsin.



CONTACT: Erika Davis
Pritzker Military Museum & Library
(312) 374-9455