The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History will host Private Charles J. Miller: WWII Paintings from the South Pacific, a special exhibit organized by the Wright Museum of World War II, from July 1 through October 30, 2022. Charles J. Miller, a self-taught draftsman and painter, was a WWII soldier who created paintings of the South Pacific that depicted everyday experiences of servicemen who fought in that WWII theater.
Private Miller fought in the Pacific Theater during WWII and captured his deployment in over 700 paintings, and of these, 120 paintings are included in this special exhibition. During this time, he drew on whatever he had available, from large sheets of paper to the insides of cigarette cartons, all using children’s watercolor sets.
Alongside these works of art that capture dramatic action and keen observation, reside interpretive text panels that contain transcriptions of the narratives Private Miller wrote on the front and/or back of his paintings. The transcriptions preserve Miller’s spelling, sentence structure and punctuation so viewers can gain a flavor of his writing style.
“Private Miller’s paintings will give visitors a rare opportunity to see what the unassuming soldier and artist saw seven decades ago during his service during WWII,” said James Walther, Museum Executive Director. “It is our pleasure to provide this insider’s look into WWII to our community.”
Private Miller never considered himself a “real” artist, having been quoted saying, “I am just a guy with a hobby.” He never sold any of his paintings, but he frequently gave away works to servicemen who showed an appreciation of his art. He estimated that he created over 700 of the South Pacific paintings.
Private Miller’s seven-decades-old art works were never matted or framed. However, his niece and her husband, Nancy and Robert Dennis, preserved his works, keeping them out of harmful light. The creation of this exhibition is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Bob and Nancy Dennis and is curated by the Wright Museum of World War II, Wolfeboro, NH.
Private Charles J. Miller: WWII Paintings from the South Pacific is a temporary exhibit that is included with the price of admission into the museum. Private Charles J. Miller: WWI Paintings from the South Pacific will be on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History from July 1 through October 30, 2022