The blazing success of “Hamilton” on Broadway increased attention on the American Revolution and interest in the founding fathers. So, timing is perfect something long overdue: a museum devoted to the War of Independence. Located in Philadelphia, the Museum of the American Revolution is opening April 19, 2017, the 242nd anniversary of the “shot heard ’round the world” that kicked off the conflict.
The 118,000-square-foot Museum of the American Revolution, located near historic Independence Hall, tells the story of the founding of the nation. They have amassed an inaugural collection of approximately 3,000 Revolutionary-era artifacts. They include weapons, uniforms, personal items, writings, and artworks. The facility features immersive galleries and theater experiences designed to bring the events and people to life and showcase the ongoing relevance of the battle for independence heading toward the nation’s 250th anniversary.
George Washington’s Tent
One iconic item featured at the Museum of the American Revolution is the field tent that served as General George Washington’s wartime headquarters. For five years, the tent was the General’s office and sleeping quarters, including during the Battle of Yorktown that resulted in the British surrender. The 23 foot-long, 14 foot-wide tent recently underwent a years-long conservation process. At the museum, the tent is part of a multimedia presentation on Washington’s leadership.
Besides its involvement in the founding of the U.S., the tent was also instrumental in the over 100-year effort to found the museum. After being saved by generations of George and Martha Washington’s descendants, it was purchased in 1909 by an Episcopal priest in Valley Forge, who dreamed of creating a museum focused on the revolution. The acquisition kicked off further collection efforts, the results of which are now owned by the Museum of the American Revolution.
Additional Artifacts and Art
Other objects tied to Washington that are on display include silver cups from his field equipment, the 13-star flag that served as his standard to herald his presence on the battlefield, and correspondence. Additional items featured in the museum include weapons carried on both sides during the fighting on April 19, 1775, in Lexington and Concord; a wooden canteen optimistically branded “UStates” long before that idea was being discussed; law books owned by Patrick Henry; and a gun powder horn that features popular campaign slogans during the war, including “Liberty or Death.”
The museum also has several artworks depicting the battle and key participants. This includes a large painting of George Washington and French general Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, better known as the Count de Rochambeau. The Museum of the American Revolution has a 19th century hand-painted copy of the “Siege of Yorktown (1781)” by Louis Charles-Auguste Couder. The original hangs in the Palace of Versailles in a room commemorating French military history.
The museum is open seven days a week, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days. Timed tickets for the Museum of the American Revolution are available for advance purchase, since demand is likely to be high this year, particularly in the months after its April opening.
By Dyanne Weiss
Museum of the American Revolution, website and press materials
CBS Philly: Museum Of American Revolution Set To Open Next Month
Philadelphia Business Journal: History in the making: Sneak peek of Museum of the American Revolution
Photo of Washington Headquarters Tent in Snow courtesy of Museum of American Revolution
Arms of Independence Photo Credit Bluecadet