The Pennsylvania Military Museum again is offering its twist on the old game of dress-up.
For the second year, the museum’s Kids’ Day on Saturday will give local children age 3-13 a chance to inspect historic uniforms and field gear, try them on and pose for photos against backdrops.
Going back as far as World War II, the canteens, ammo pouches, hats, helmets, coats and other combat gear come from the museum’s “For Use” collection.
“It’s going to span the bulk of the 20th century,” said Joe Horvath, museum educator and curator.
Horvath said “For Use” items are for educational purposes and aren’t in the museum’s permanent collections because they lack “provenance,” a history of ownership. Since he started at the museum 15 years ago, he has been accepting donations or buying pieces for talks and hands-on events.
“I’ve always wanted to do something for the kids, but you have to have the stuff to do it,” Horvath said.
Saturday’s event, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include volunteers to help preserve order and assist children with dressing.
“You want a sailor’s cap to go with a sailor’s uniform, not an Army one,” Horvath said.
In addition to a military-looking scene with camouflage netting and ammo crates, another backdrop will feature a Marine tactical mountain bicycle from the 1990s. For a third, parents can choose one of the service branch flags.
Elsewhere in the museum will be educational stations. At one, an Air Force veteran will answer questions about the World War II and Cold War planes represented by various models.
At another, children can heft a rare German machine gun from World War I. Brought to Tyrone under unknown circumstances, it’s in the “For Use” collection because it lacks a tie to Pennsylvania history.
Reduced admission for the day is $2 for children and $5.50 for adults. Parents must be present for children to try on uniforms.
Horvath said he hopes the day’s discoveries lead to more interest in learning about and preserving military history.
“There’s also a selfish aspect to this, in that we might create the future ranks of historians, curators and educators,” he said.
The Pennsylvania Military Museum is in Boalsburg, off U.S. Route 322 Business. For more information, visit www.pamilmuseum.org or call 466-6263.
By Chris Rosenblum