Two University of Missouri students are getting an extra helping of practical experience at the Museum of Missouri Military History as they create the museum's first military food exhibit.
With the help of Haley Heil and Ben Truska, history majors at MU, history buffs across the state will be able to see Army cookbooks, photographs, utensils and storage cases used during World War I through the 1980s.
"I am interested in museum studies because I feel like people don't know enough about history just by reading the book; you have to see it to know it, too," Heil said.
Heil said the most valuable lesson she has gained during her six-month internship is the level of research needed to pick a topic and match pictures that go with the accurate dates. It took her two months of research to prepare this exhibit, she said.
Throughout the exhibit, visitors can see manuals for Army cooks and bakers, along with recipes for dishes like bean soup, parched corn, butternuts and hardtack — a really thick cracker.
A little further through the decades, visitors can see actual cases of silverware, cups and serving plates, as well as the cases bacon was stored in during World War I.
"The purpose of this example is to show people how things use to be," MMMH Director Charles Machon said. "In light of all the natural disasters the world is experiencing, we thought this exhibit is one that would bring back memories making people smile about the old days."
He said many of the artifacts come from other units across the state after they may have cleaned out a storage space or from residents who want to share with the museum.
Truska is in the third week of his internship and said history is like a lost art to him. Truska was enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves for five years.
"With museum work, I have the opportunity to share some of the eras in history that I personally find interesting with people," Truska said. "Working in a classroom setting limits some of that."
He plans to go further in the field to help with archeological digs for future museum exhibits.
Machon said the hands-on experience gained by the students gives them a leg up when applying for future jobs.
"This gives the students the opportunity to really think about what they can create, what resources they have and what they can do to make the exhibit more visibly appealing in a confined space," Machon said. "It's a great resume builder and an opportunity to show and demonstrate their practical experience."
From now until Thanksgiving, the exhibit is open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is located at 2405 Logistics Road in Jefferson City.