Hanoi Hilton – American Heritage Museum

Hoa Lo, better known as the “Hanoi Hilton” was the notorious prison that would incarcerate nearly 500 American airmen during the Vietnam War.  It was a place of torture and isolation.  But the Americans who were held there would devise ingenious methods to communicate in order to stay sane, strong, and connected to one another.  When they were finally released, they came “Home with Honor.”   

The American Heritage Museum was able to acquire three deconstructed cells from the prison as it was demolished in Hanoi. The cells are complete with walls, bricks, and the concrete slab bunks with locking shackles. The museum, in collaboration with BPI, painstakingly reassembled these cells in the museum and have interpreted the airmen’s imprisonment with carefully produced multimedia.

The harrowing stories of being shot down, captured, tortured, and held in solitary for, in some cases, over seven years, are recounted in a series of original interviews with 6 POW’s. Their stories are at once gripping, poignant, and painful. Moreover, they reflect extraordinary courage, determination and devotion to one another . . . even while they faced unceasing trauma and uncertainty.

BPI chose to project these edited interviews on the physical surfaces that were parts of the prison, including the infamous “Knobby Room” where all the men were tortured, and on the cell walls where they would be confined. The stories unfold through these POW interviews, archival footage and silhouetted reenactments.

As guests exit the prison, they can explore a cloud-based interactive with the personal stories of nearly all who were imprisoned there.

The Hanoi Hilton exhibit is the latest addition to the American Heritage Museum located in Hudson, MA. BPI was also responsible for the creative development, media design, and media production throughout the venue.



Client: American Heritage Museum, Hudson, MA
Partners: Jonathan Bean Design, Ariel Hallgren Design, Scott Ciprari Fabrication
Category: Military History
Services: Exhibit Design, AV Design, Film & Video, Interactive

What We Did:

  • Exhibit Design
  • Documentary Films
  • Interactive Biography Database
  • Immersive Media

The Hanoi Hilton POW Experience is a chance for museum patrons to get a sense of the horrific nature of war through personal stories, videos, and artifacts.

Community Advocate

Rebuilt facade of the "Hanoi Hilton" prison
Projection showing the post-war achievements of POWs
Prisoners were tortured and interrogated in the "Knobby Room"
An interactive database containing a short bio about each POW
A prisoner's experience portrayed in a silhouette
POWs recount the day of their capture