November 07, 2018

Museum Review - 45th Infantry Division Museum

The 45th Infantry Division is an old and respected unit. Its subordinate regiments fought in WWI, and the division as a whole served with distinction across Sicily, Italy, France and Germany during WWII. It went to Korea, and its successor unit, the 45th Infantry Brigade, was deployed during Desert Storm and later to both Afghanistan and Iraq. The history of this unit, part of the Oklahoma National Guard, is chronicled in the excellent 45th Infantry Division Museum, located northeast of downtown Oklahoma City.

Me with an M48 tank
Type: Museum with an eclectic collection of mostly ground-focused military paraphernalia
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Rating: 4/5, Definitely worth a visit if you're in town
Price: Free


The vehicle park outside the museum

For a fairly low-profile museum, the 45th's is truly remarkable. The first thing you notice on arrival is the outside vehicle park, which includes a couple dozen tanks, trucks, and armored vehicles, half a dozen army aircraft, and a trio of jets representing the heritage of the Oklahoma Air National Guard. The collection is mostly focused on the years 1943-1970 or so, and there's a lot of obscure early Cold War stuff on display. The signage is a bit weak, but it's easy to forgive given the size of the collection, and a smartphone can go a long way to compensate.

An exceptionally well-done exhibit of a Vietnam-era M113, down to the Playboy in the hands of the gunner mannequin.

Inside is much of the same, but with personal equipment instead of vehicles. There's a series of displays on the military history of Oklahoma, and the wars fought by the 45th up through Korea. There's a large collection of Nazi artifacts, including a significant number of Hitler's personal effects, captured by members of the 45th during the closing days of the war. There's also a very impressive small arms collection, running from the Revolutionary War through Vietnam. There's a well-done collection on the unit's Medal of Honor winners, and a hall dedicated to the 45th's liberation of Dachau. On a lighter note, they have a large collection of Bill Mauldin comics. Mauldin, who was initially assigned to the 45th, was possibly the greatest war cartoonist of WWII. And there's a room in the back with a bunch of weapons, vehicles, and other equipment that's easy to overlook.

A small portion of the museum's massive collection of small arms

The biggest problem with the museum is that it's badly dated, and doesn't seem to be under much maintenance. I found a couple typos in a display when I visited a year ago, and they hadn't been fixed when I returned, despite it being fairly trivial to do so. (They remain unfixed as of September 2021.) One sign included the phrase "today, as we enter the nineties" and a lot of others didn't look to have been updated in about that long.

An F-80, A-7 and F-86 mounted outside

While it's not the best military museum in Oklahoma (that would be at Fort Sill), you should definitely visit if you happen to be in the area. Particularly at the price, it's an excellent way to spend a couple of hours if you're a military geek, and enjoyable to visit even if you aren't.


  1. November 07, 2018Tony Zbaraschuk said...

    I'm only about a three-hour drive away. Definitely on my list of things to do...

  2. November 07, 2018bean said...

    If you come to OKC, let me know. I'd love to grab lunch or something. I live about 20 minutes away from the museum.

    I'm not sure what direction you're coming from, but the Stafford Museum in Weatherford, about an hour west, is really good. I gave it a 4.3, but it's going to be a while before the post goes up.

  3. November 07, 2018LordNelson said...

    I can confirm that it's a fun way to spend an afternoon, even for those who aren't military geeks.

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