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On Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend the Press Preview of the latest historical venue to open its doors the Old City section of Philadelphia. The Museum of the American Revolution, located at the corner of 3rd and Chestnut Streets, is just blocks away from Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center and a whole bunch of other historically significant buildings.
The doors open to the public on April 19, 2017, a date picked with purpose as on the same day in 1775, the war began with the famous “shot heard around the world.”
Visitors can learn about the American Revolution (and the events preceding and following the actual war) as they wind their way through exhibit after exhibit. I recommend starting your visit by watching the film “Revolution” in the theater on the lower level of the museum. After that presentation, head upstairs and start exploring the various artifacts and other displays.
An absolute DO NOT MISS is the film upstairs called “Washington’s War Tent.” Learn about the importance of the field tent that Washington used as both a home and an office during the war. Learn why it was so significant that he camped right alongside the soldiers he led and what happened to the tent after he died. As the film draws to a close, the lighting changes behind the screen. Just a silhouette at first, you eventually see the actual original tent carefully pitched and on brilliant display behind the glass wall. The film was beautifully done and when the tent appears at the end, well, you might want to have a tissue on hand. Definitely an emotional crescendo!
Another one of my favorite areas in the museum was the gallery that centered around a lifesize replica of America’s first Liberty Tree. Throughout the decade preceding the Revolutionary War, “Liberty Trees” were gathering spots in towns across the colonies where some of the first stirrings about a possible revolt from England were discussed and debated. When you visit the museum, you can walk beneath this massive 18 foot tall replica Tulip Poplar tree. The real tree stood in Annapolis, MD and sheltered colonists in 1775. It survived until 1999 and now this replica features an actual piece from the real tree that visitors can touch when they visit.
Another very cool feature is the large-scale reproduction of an American privateer ship. The replica was actually built for the Museum of the American Revolution by the Independence Seaport Museum, just blocks away. Take a walk on the ship’s deck to get a feel for the “war at sea,” yet another interesting aspect of the Revolutionary War.
Photo Credit: Bluecadet
In addition to the museum itself, be sure to check out the Cross Keys Cafe (featuring snacks, and a light lunch-type fare) and a fully stocked gift shop which has an excellent selection of books, apparel and more.
If you are planning a trip (day or longer) to explore the historical highlights in Philadelphia, I highly recommend adding a stop to the Museum of the American Revolution to your list. I attended the press preview with my dad, and fellow history buff. Next time I plan to take my whole family for a visit. While the 3 year old will have fun looking at the exhibits but is most likely a bit too young to be interested in much, my 8 year old is going to absolutely love it. Her interest in Hamilton: An American Musical has already sparked a desire to learn more about the American Revolution. We are planning a day trip to Philly this summer and this museum will definitely be one of our stops.
I put together a video of our walk-through of the Museum of the American Revolution. You can check it out here: