10 museums and exhibits you can explore virtually to honour US veterans for Memorial Day

Win McNamee/Getty Images90-year-old World War II U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dan Villarial is kissed by two young women in 1940’s period costume at the National D-Day Memorial on June 6, 2019 in Bedford, Virginia.
  • Memorial Day officially became a national holiday in 1971 and was originally named Decoration Day.
  • This year, there are many ways to honour US veterans and explore the history of war without leaving home.
  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Air & Space Museum have compelling virtual exhibits that examine war history alongside social and cultural narratives.
  • Some museums, including the Intrepid Museum and the National World War II Museum, will livestream memorial ceremonies to mark the holiday.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.


The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum has a variety of online exhibits and will host a virtual Memorial Day ceremony.

Anton_Ivanov/ShutterstockThe Intrepid Museum in New York City.

The Intrepid Museum’s annual Memorial Day event will be livestreamed on Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

The commemoration will include speeches, the laying of a ceremonial wreath in the Hudson River, as well as the playing of Taps from the flight deck of the USS Intrepid by a Marine Corps sergeant.

In addition, the museum has online exhibits available for people of all ages, including educational activities for kids and a virtual walk-through of the historic aircraft carrier USS Intrepid.


The National Museum of African American History and Culture has an interactive exhibit about World War I.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesA 2016 photo of the National Museum Of African American History And Culture in Washington, DC.

“We Return Fighting” explores how World War I impacted African Americans, from those who served overseas and returned to an “unchanged America” to the only three black women who were allowed to travel to France during the war.

The museum also has videos about the first African American women in the Navy and an exhibit dedicated to the African American military experience from the American Revolution to the War on Terror.


Learn about the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II through an online exhibit from the National Air & Space Museum.

PhotoQuest/Getty ImagesA trio of Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) look over flight plans around the cockpit of a Curtiss A-25A at Camp Davis Army Air Field, North Carolina, circa 1944.

The museum’s virtual editorial exhibit honours Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), who flew 60 million miles in all types of military aircraft beginning in World War II.

While the women who participated in the program were initially told they would become part of the military after completing training, the WASPs were disbanded in 1944. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II were honoured with partial veteran status, according to the National Air & Space Museum.


Tune in to a ceremony hosted by the National World War I Museum, or take a digital tour of its lifelike trenches exhibit.

Wikimedia Commons/Ernest BrooksAn undated archive photo of soldiers in trenches, World War I.

Located in Kansas City, Missouri, the National World War I Museum and Memorial is hosting three ceremonies honouring veterans. They’re available to watch on the museum’s website on Memorial Day, starting at 10 a.m. ET.

Additionally, until the museum reopens on June 1, history enthusiasts can virtually explore exhibits like re-creations of World War I trenches or take a guided visual and audio tour of the facility.


The National World War II Museum lets visitors stay connected in the form of Zoom webinars, oral histories, and digital collections.

Gerald Herbert/APA page of out of the diary of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas Jones featuring a photo of his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Davis Burlingame, at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

The museum, located in New Orleans, Louisiana, is set to reopen on Memorial Day.

However, the institution still has a variety of ways to connect and learn from home, such as a Zoom webinar about the Battle of Attu, the only battle fought on North American soil during World War II; and a number of compelling World War II-related oral histories.


The National Museum of American History examines US military service through the years with its virtual exhibit, “The Price of Freedom.”

Cherie A. ThurlbyUS veterans point out a familiar name at the Vietnam War memorial following a Veterans Day ceremony, Nov. 11, 2006.

Visitors can virtually explore America’s history of war from the 18th century to the present with timelines, activities, maps, and artifacts as part of “The Price of Freedom,” hosted by the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.


Honour women who served in the Coast Guard in World War II with an exhibit from the National Women’s History Museum.

Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesA recruitment poster for the Coast Guard SPARs program.

In 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law an act that let women enlist in the United States Coast Guard, which became known as the SPARs program.

The name was a play on the Coast Guard’s motto, Semper Paratus, meaning “always ready,” according to the National Museum of Women’s History exhibit, which explores the groundbreaking role of the Coast Guard Women’s Reserves during World War II.


The Normandy American Cemetery, a vast memorial for American soldiers who lost their lives in World War II, can be viewed online.

Salvatore Romano/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesA view of Normandy American Cemetery on September 15, 2019 near Colleville-Sur-Mer, France

The French cemetery, which overlooks the English Channel, is the resting place of thousands of American soldiers who lost their lives in D-Day landings and following operations along the coast.

The vast memorial can be viewed virtually on Google’s Arts and Culture hub.


A 3-D online tour documents the making of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Yuri Gripas/ReutersA view of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Google’s Arts and Culture exhibit features an interactive timeline of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, from its inception in 1980 to the years-long process of putting the design into action.


An online exhibit from the National D-Day Memorial commemorates the work of medics during World War II.

Ralph Morse/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty ImagesLieutenant General Delos Carleton Emmons standing in front of medical practitioners during World War II, circa 1942.

The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, offers an up-close look at real outfits, tools, and supplies used by medical teams in World War II through an online exhibit from Google Arts and Culture.

The exhibit shows photos and accompanying descriptions and stories of artifacts like first-aid pouches, medicines, and other equipment from the 1940s.

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