The USS Midway Museum is where naval history comes to life. From engaging docents to full-motion flight simulators, a visit to Midway puts guests in the cockpit. With the 100th anniversary of the U.S Navy’s aircraft carrier being celebrated in 2022, it was the perfect opportunity for the ship’s exhibit team to integrate this historic military milestone into the guest experience.
“I am grateful to be able to use my creative talents and skills to tell stories,” said Mike Ozaki, Midway’s director of exhibits. “By updating or creating interesting exhibits, setting the stage for our docents, I’m helping provide them with an opportunity to tell their stories that inspire our guests and bring the ship alive.”
Mike and his team use Midway as their artist canvas, crafting exhibits and displays that connect museum visitors to the legacy of naval aviation. The aircraft carrier centennial presented them with an exciting new prospect.
“I am always looking for ways to improve our guest experience,” said Mike, who has been with the Midway since 2015. “The history, evolution and size of the two aircraft carrier models in the USS Langley/USS Ford model case on the hangar deck are what I like to call the “oh wow factor” that our guests can easily relate to. I thought the Langley/Ford story was the perfect creative foundation for Midway’s participation in the centennial.”
A storyteller, Mike also transformed a series of unadorned barriers that cloak the carrier’s #2 aircraft elevator from guests into century-long history lesson.
“The timeline banners in front of the aircraft elevator are my favorite, and developing content with the help of our docents is where I learned the most about aircraft carriers, past and present,” said Mike, who, along with his team, have created more than 30 new exhibits and displays over the last six years. “Some carriers were quickly aged-out by emerging technology, some served gallantly and some were fortunate to have a long rich history
The museum’s carrier centennial exhibits will be available to guests throughout the year.
“I have been fortunate to work with some amazing people, and my staff and our exhibit volunteers, past and present, are truly world class,” said Mike. “Like every display here on Midway, I hope we tell an accurate story of what it was like to live and work on an aircraft carrier, and pay respect to sailors who sacrificed and served for our freedom.”