NORTHFIELD — A vial of ashes reportedly from the site where Osama bin Laden was killed and a wrestler’s action figure are just a couple of the 200 items Norwich University has put on display for its bicentennial.
Katherine Taylor-McBroom, curator of exhibits and collections at the Sullivan Museum & History Center at Norwich, said the school has planned the exhibit for some time. It focuses on sports, art, culture, military and crafts.
All the exhibit’s artifacts either belonged to a Norwich alum or were acquired by one, Taylor-McBroom said. The university plans to purchase notable items with connections to the school.
Because Taylor-McBroom had the freedom to pick items without a specific theme, the exhibit will feature some items the public has never seen before, since many didn’t fit in past exhibits.
That includes a rubber action figure of Ted Arcidi, who graduated from Norwich in 1982. He went on to become a weight lifter and was employed by the World Wrestling Federation for two years. The exhibit also features a signed poster of Arcidi, who currently owns and operates Arcidi’s Weightlifters Warehouse in Manchester, New Hampshire. Arcidi set a world record in 1990 by bench pressing 718 pounds.
Another case at the exhibit features two World War II-era cups and the vial which was reportedly taken from where bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in 2011. The vial is said to contain ashes of destroyed multimedia such as plans and photographs that belonged to the former Al-Qaeda leader.
One of the cups, a tea cup, comes from Cpt. James Burt, who graduated from Norwich in 1939. A note Burt attached to the cup says he acquired it from a German soldier who was eating breakfast in a French farmhouse during World War II and “who couldn’t reach his gun.”
The other cup, a coffee cup, was taken from Saddam Hussein’s palace in Iraq after the U.S. invaded in 2003.
One of the exhibit’s prized possessions, according to Taylor-McBroom, is a Spencer repeating rifle from 1864 that was given to Gideon Welles, an 1836 Norwich graduate. The weapon was given to Welles by President Abraham Lincoln and includes a note with Lincoln’s signature.
The exhibit also features a Vermont copper coin minted sometime between 1777 and 1791, before Vermont became a state.
There are also uniforms from the 1800s and Inuit art from the 1970s.
“Alumni donate most of everything. They are so generous with the things they send to us,” Taylor-McBroom said.
She said the alumni love their alma mater’s history as the nation’s first private military school.
The exhibit is open until Dec. 21.
The museum is free and open to the public Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., excluding holidays. For more information, visit http://www.norwich.edu/museum.