Past Special Exhibition - Operation Babylift


April 16, 2015 to April 3, 2016​

Explore the diverse experiences and lasting impacts of a dramatic airlift that removed more than 2,000 Vietnamese children from their war-torn country to be adopted by American families as Saigon fell in 1975. The extraordinary story continued at the Presidio, where more than 1,500 of these children were transferred before being placed with adoptive families. As more than 5,400 volunteers in the San Francisco Bay Area cared for the children, Operation Babylift itself was being debated across the country.

This exhibition and program series is co-curated by the Presidio Trust and the Adoption Museum Project, and was shaped by input from community contributors. It marks the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift and the end of the Vietnam War.

Operation Babylift is the latest special exhibition at the Presidio Officers’ Club, a cultural institution that showcases the Presidio’s role in shaping and serving California and the nation. Special exhibitions explore the Presidio’s heritage and allow for fresh perspectives and a deeper exploration of the topics and themes presented in the permanent exhibit.​

The Adoption Museum Project is creating a museum that explores the topic of adoption. It will be the first permanent, public space inviting all people to reflect on adoption and how it impacts our personal and collective lives. The purpose of this museum is to support positive social change – helping address issues while honoring what works.

About the Exhibition

Through photos, artifacts with community contributed labels, a multi-media timeline, and StoryCorps dialogues between adoptees and Presidio volunteers, the exhibition explores the diverse points of view that existed then and now. Operation Babylift: Perspectives and Legacies is not a single story told by a solitary voice, but by the voices of many whose lives were changed forever.

Visitors can contribute their perspectives in the gallery. Parts of the gallery content are translated into Vietnamese, and a print guide with Vietnamese translation of all content will be available.​