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Veterans History Exchange:
VHX Design Workshops

Veterans History Exchange (VHX)

Penn Museum

Following the ideas and guidance of our Design Workshop participants, Eternal Soldier, in collaboration with a terrific team of Veterans, has created a unique interactive pathfinder experience, the Veterans History Exchange (VHX). This program connects history and Veterans’ experience to Penn Museum artifacts, making the collection accessible to Veterans and members of the public in new and exciting ways.

The VHX was curated by a team of 6 Veterans from diverse backgrounds. First, they shared their stories and important themes related to military service, and second, Eternal Soldier along with Museum staff ushered them through the creation of the VHX. The entire program began in November 2022 and was completed in time for Eternal Soldier's 10thAnniversary in February 2024.  The VHX is downloadable with a QR Code or from this link.

Participants were visited by experts from the Penn Museum curatorial staff. Veterans learned in-depth about artifacts from the Museum’s collection and created tour content. The VHX will enable Museum visitors to learn Veteran views and insights while following the pathfinder and signposts.

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The Veterans History Exchange (VHX) is based on a Story Map, an interactive itinerary of objects and places coupled with geographic location and multimedia content, all pulled together to tell a story. Many cities, like Orlando, use story maps to highlight cultural institutions, local businesses, historical sites and local lore for visitors. Similar to a museum tour, the VHX features the Penn Museum collection but with the focus on Veteran-curated objects united to tell Veterans’ stories.


Sometimes it is easier to understand modern conflicts through the lens of ancient wars, resulting in new ideas and observations about the perennial nature of military service, combat, Veterans and society. The VHX illustrates modern Veteran experience in combination with a historical perspective of military service through time utilizing the Museum’s collection. The artifacts and ideas presented in the VHX are not limited to military themes, although participants decided for themselves what ideas were important to include.

Let’s Work Together

A grant from the Loeb Classical Library Foundation at Harvard enabled Eternal Soldier to take steps that will help us grow.  On September 18 and October 2 2021, we engaged Veterans as partners to help us design programs that interest them. We orchestrated two, professionally-facilitated, virtual "design workshops" with men and women Veterans, exploring their interests and preferences in archaeology, history, visual culture and literature. We also learned how Eternal Soldier and the Penn Museum may better serve women Veterans and Veterans of color.


During the Design Workshops, we guided Veterans on a virtual museum tour and engaged them with examples of museum resources and artifacts, followed by brainstorming sessions about topics and content of interest to Veterans, as well as unmet educational needs. Through the workshop experience, participants helped us pinpoint specific steps to improve ---and expand--- existing ES programs, as well as ways to increase our organization’s communication and engagement.  The Veterans History Exchange is the result of this grant.

In the coming months, we will post to this space lessons learned and our plans for new programs and events.

Design Workshop, Sept 2021

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Design Workshop, Oct 2021

Thank You to all the Design Workshop participants for your support!

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