KNOW YOUR HISTORY: Museum of the American Revolution Opens
On Thursday, April 13, Spirit News was granted access to a press preview at the Museum of the American Revolution at 3rd and Chestnut Streets. The new museum promised to give attendees new insights and information about the Revolutionary War.
Upon entering, I was unsure of what to expect. As a history enthusiast, I was excited to explore the exhibits, but I attempted to keep my expectations low to avoid certain disappointment if the museum was just another reincarnation of other history museums I have visited throughout my life. Spoiler alert: This museum was not your ordinary historical journey.
The museum officially opened on Wednesday, April 19, and the grand opening featured speakers such as best-selling author Cokie Roberts, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, and former Vice President Joe Biden. April 19 represented the 242nd anniversary of the “shot heard ‘round the world” that marked the famous beginning to the Revolutionary War.
As I entered the museum, I was looking not only for new information, but also for stories that tied the American Revolution to our Riverwards.
The first exhibit I was able to experience was the preserved war tent of General George Washington. Textile Conservator Virginia Whelan and Structural Engineer Alex Stadel were present to introduce the tent to the spectators. Washington’s War Tent is more than just a really old piece of fabric. This tent is the place that General Washington called home for the entire duration of the war. A video accompanying the tent explains how the soon-to-be first president spent only a few days in his hometown in Virginia during the entire Revolutionary conflict. Although, we Philadelphians know that George and Martha Washington spent some time with John Hewson on Sam Ball’s stretch of land that he purchased from Anthony Palmer. The area would later be known as Port Richmond.
In addition to the impressive artifacts that the museum is in possession of, the museum designers have also done a great job of incorporating 21st century technology into the museum experience. Large touch-screen monitors — brilliantly designed by Blue Cadet, a Fishtown-based tech firm — allow you to click through time periods, documents, maps, weapons and more. In my own personal experience, other museums are organized in a way that allows for much of its information to go unexplored. Visitors may be easily bored if they have to read through each and every exhibit. While the Museum of the American Revolution does include text features throughout its historical journey, its inclusion of videos, sounds and hands-on displays creates a unique experience.
On more than a few occasions, I thought I spotted museum employees dressed like 18th century characters of the Revolution. In reality, those characters were impressive sculptures of Revolution-era citizens. Even more impressive than the quality of these sculptures is the quantity of them. I was surprised to find that the life-size sculptures were not exclusive to one area of the museum, but rather were spread throughout the entire museum.
Between the beautiful architecture of the bright, expansive interior of the building and the ceiling-to-floor artwork, the ambiance of the environment is intriguing. The exhibits have an even dispersal of light-hearted content that would be suitable for children and history fans, and darker-toned honest exhibits that would be captivating to individuals who want to know the full truth behind aspects of the Revolution.
For those interested in seeing the museum for themselves, they can visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or check out the museum’s Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest sites. Adult admission is $19, college/military admission is $17, children six and up is $12, and children five and under are admitted for free. Group tickets for 15 people or more are $12 for adults and student group tickets are $10 each. Memberships are also available by calling 215-253-6731 ext. 123 or by emailing amrevmuseum.org/membership.
Normal hours of operation for the museum are 10AM to 5PM.