Mobile Exhibit

The Cold War Museum has a mobile exhibit on the U-2 Incident of May 1, 1960 which has been exhibited at many museums across the United States and internationally over the past ten years.

Exhibit locations include American Government agencies (CIA, DIA, FBI, NSA, NRO), numerous national museums including the the USAF Museum, the Pima Air and Space Museum, the National Atomic Museum, the Seattle Museum of Flight, and the Allied Museum and Bodo Aviation Museum in Europe.

The Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia will host the mobile exhibit January through May 2010. The EAA Museum in Oshkosh, WI will host the exhibit between June and August 2010. Dates are now being scheduled for the fall 2010 and beyond.

The traveling exhibit acts as a catalyst for the creation of a permanent Cold War Museum. To reserve the mobile exhibit, please contact the The Cold War Museum. Below is our most recent press release. For additional information on the mobile exhibit, please click here.

From Civilian Pilot, to Imprisoned Spy, to War Hero
Virginia Man’s Cold War Crisis Story Told in New Exhibition at the Virginia Historical Society

Richmond, VA—On Saturday, January 16, 2010, the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) opens a powerful exhibition called Cold War Crisis: The U-2 Incident about the life of Pound, Va., resident and Grundy High School graduate Francis Gary Powers (1929–1977). The exhibition tells the life story of Powers and how he went from being a CIA U-2 pilot on a top secret mission to an international figure caught in the cross-fire of political conflict, military tension, and economic competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.

“Francis Gary Powers’ story is one that made world news and had a huge impact on international relations for decades,” said Paul Levengood, Virginia Historical Society President and CEO. “Some Virginians may remember the U-2 Incident, but for the most part, the story has been lost to time. In an effort to focus on more 20th century topics, the VHS wants to show visitors the Cold War Crisis’s effect on Virginia history.”

Powers was a civilian pilot flying for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). On May 1, 1960, the American U-2 reconnaissance plane he was flying was shot down over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air missile. This event became known as the U-2 Incident.

Because the U-2 plane was specifically designed for covert surveillance, Powers was tried by the Soviet government, convicted as a spy, and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. In 1962, after twenty-one months of captivity, Powers was exchanged in Germany for a Soviet KGB agent. Upon his return to the United States, Powers was cold-shouldered by the CIA for having failed to destroy the plane or kill himself. Less than one month later, a Senate committee determined that Powers followed orders, did not divulge any critical information to the Soviets, and fully exonerated him.

In 2000, on the 40th anniversary of the U-2 Incident, his family was presented with his posthumously awarded POW Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the CIA Director’s Medal for “Extraordinary Fidelity and Essential Service” for his military service and for never disclosing any classified information.

The Cold War Crisis: The U-2 Incident exhibition is organized by The Cold War Museum, which was founded by Powers’ son Francis Gary Powers, Jr. The exhibition features more than fifty items including a never before seen propaganda poster, photos, letters, and Soviet artifacts collected by Powers’ son.

Powers, Jr., will give a gallery walk of the exhibition on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at noon at the VHS. Admission to the exhibition is free for everyone while it is on display at the society through May 30.

“I am so honored that the Virginia Historical Society is hosting this exhibit about my father,” said Powers. “I have spent decades preserving Cold War history, honoring Cold War veterans, and making sure that stories like his do not get forgotten.”

For more than 178 years, the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) has been the steward of our state—and often national—history. Headquartered in Richmond, the VHS features award-winning exhibitions that are entertaining and educational for visitors of all ages. Although designated the Official State Historical Society, the VHS is a privately funded non-profit organization that relies on contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations to sustain its operations. Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m.–5 p.m. (shop and museum galleries only). Admission is free. For group tour information, call (804) 342-9652. For more information, call (804) 358-4901 or visit

In 1996, Francis Gary Powers, Jr., and John C. Welch founded The Cold War Museum to preserve Cold War history and honor Cold War veterans. Currently, a mobile exhibition of historical artifacts associated with the U-2 Incident of May 1960 is traveling around the world promoting interest in the creation of a permanent Cold War Museum facility at Vint Hill, VA. The mobile display has been exhibited nationally at the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency Cryptologic Museum, the Strategic Air Command Museum, the United States Air Force Museum, the Atomic Testing Museum, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National War College. Internationally the exhibition has been displayed at the Norwegian Aviation Center in Norway, and the Allied Museum in Germany. For more information about the Cold War Museum, please visit

Note: Links to external sites will open in new browser windows and are not endorsed by The Cold War Museum.

The Cold War Museum

P.O. Box 861526

(7142 Lineweaver Road)

Vint Hill, VA 20187

(540) 341-2008