503 South Street
Waterloo Iowa 50701United States
Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum offers a moving look at America's armed conflicts since the Civil War.
Open since 2008, this museum is named after Waterloo's most famous veterans, the five Sullivan brothers, who died when the USS Juneau was bombed at Guadalcanal in 1942. But the museum is not just a memorial to George, Frank, Joseph, Madison and Albert Sullivan--it tells the stories of Iowa's people in America's wars since the Civil War. Documents, photographs and artifacts are on display, including a P-51 Mustang WWII fighter plane and a tank, along with grim reminders of war's consequences: a coffin and a prosthetic arm, which visitors are invited to touch. Your admission ticket is a "dog tag" resembling the identification tags worn by soldiers. When you scan your tag at the museum's dog-tag station, you'll be told about your role in three different wars--and whether your character survives. One exhibit takes you inside a World War I trench, and another teaches you how and when to salute. Activated by motion sensors, mini theaters throughout the building show five- to 10-minute documentaries. It's especially gratifying to hear veterans and other Iowans telling their personal stories about wars since World War II. The atmosphere in this modern-looking building is appropriately somber. The quiet in the exhibits is broken only by the occasional sounds of gunfire, shouts and explosions coming from the documentary films. We found our visit to Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum to be a moving experience. Admission is charged. Discount passes cover admission here as well as to Rensselaer Russell House Museum and Bluedorn Science Imaginarium.