Arch, i enjoed very much the photos of your previous exhibit, i think this one it's going to be a success, too.
May i ask you if you are aiming it to a public which has knowledge of the military world or to the casual lookers?
On the small displays i've made i have learned that at the eyes of the casual spectators will look at your best DCUs as if they are looking at a rack in a used clothing store.
I'd go for displaying items that look different from a distance, so the non experts will recognize they are different.
Have you thought of adding a small description (absolutely not specific) of the items in the display?
I found that a description, along with writing on the display a context in which the items were used always make the spectators wonder and discuss.
Maybe i was unclear so i'll give you an example of what i am thinking.
Take for example a display based on the 173rd airborne early in 2003, like this one
I'd name it "173rd Airborne, combat jump, 26 march 2003" and add a small description like:
"Among the first to parachute into iraq, soldiers were still equipped with the 1970's ALICE webbing and the early 80's kevlar helmet. The desert uniform was the same fielded after Desert Storm. Waiting for better replacements some soldiers were still wearing the by then obsolete body armor with metal plates first seen with Rangers in Somalia in 1993"
I did almost the same with a display of Italian forces and it seemed to work (atleast here).
That said, there's some displays i think could be representative:
-the aforementioned 173rd airborne soldier
- task force tarawa marine: DCU (with woodland nbc suit over), PASGT, woodland IBA, woodland molle FLC and gas mask carrier. this is the image i have thinking of starting of the iraq war. NBC items bring a memory of Desert Storm
-TF viking special forces: modified woodland BDU, spear elcs with or without balcs or some commercial vests, ball cap. they were the only still using BDU's
-25th ID in 2004: CCU, IBA in woodland or desert camouflage, MICH helmet. They led to the adoption of the ACU cut uniform and the ACH as a general issue helmet.
-usmc in fallujah Marpat and Coyote brown armor and webbing plus LWH helmet. Because marines were the dirst to use digital camouflage and having a color (coyote brown) ideally suited for both woodland and arid environment. the LWH too could be compared to the old PASGT
-some early UCP display: ACU, ACH helmet, Interceptor body armor in UCP with pouches. Or maybe an USACAPOC display with ACU. You'd lose the full UCP look, but you'd put a display for a Reserve unit. an UCP display is necessary to look at the then new Universal Camouflage concept.
-Late infantry setup, with UCP combat shirt and IOTV. These were big innovations.
-USAF security Force 2008 display, with ABU, brassard, and DFLCS, with or without armor. That combination was used very shortly, but pointing the fact that the uniform is based on the vietnam era tiger stripe may peak the interest of vietnam era veterans.
-A navy SEAL display, like DevGru close protection group, with civilian attire or modified tan top, like the k-l one seen worn by the team photo with president George Bush.
- i think a display with one of the older self made combat shirts can be interesting, explaining how it lead to the adoption of the (displayed) Army Combat Shirt. Let's say something like Army Special Forces were wearing in 2005 along with the then new Ciras vests and matching pouches.
-Iraqi forces diplay with chocolate chip uniform. If there is a DS veteran he'd be interested.
-i think a PMC display should be interesting as well. The fallujah ambush in which 4 Blackwater operatives were killed could be cited, too, i think it's an episode that still comes to mind.
-MPRI or SWAT members embedded to US teams... maybe it's too specific.
My list leaves a lot of possible displays out, like Delta Force, Coast Guardsmen, Usaf PJs or Combat controllers, Marine Recon, ghille-clad snipers etc...
Should you need photos related to these ideas just ask and give me some time to dig them out.