I recently visited the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia, around the corner from Independence Hall and a few blocks from the Liberty bell.
I was curious to see how they could make a museum out of a segment of history. To put it simply, I was very, very pleased to find that the museum wildly exceeded my expectations. It was, as is expected of a museum, educational. But on a number of occasions it was also thrilling, touching, heartwarming and inspiring.
The museum blends an exceptional range of audio-visual effects with a great, fascinating collection of historic artifacts. The crown of the collection is one of the actual tents that George Washington used during the revolutionary war. It's amazing that it survived, and in very good condition, at that.
There are a number of educational videos interspersed throughout the museum. They recommend you start with a brief video. They are well worth viewing. There's a fun area, for kids and adults, where you can try on the kind of clothing worn in the 1770s.
While waiting for the first movie, I went to the area where they offer colonial garb to try out-- British uniforms, revolutionary colonist clothing. I tried some on.
(Image by Rob Kall) Details DMCA
This is a sizable museum with a look and feel to match the importance of the subject it covers.
The American Revolution is more than simply a piece of history. The museum makes it clear that the American Revolution changed everything for the world, leading to other revolutions around the world and a change in the way the people of the world viewed Democracy, liberty and freedom.
It was refreshing to see that the role of Native Americans was also given decent coverage.
Spending a few hours delving into the American revolution was inspiring. As a progressive, I am very well aware that the leaders of the American Revolution were landowners and wealthier citizens. The museum reminds us that slaves and women had no rights to vote back then and that population was based on an algorithm where blacks where counted as two thirds of a human.
I learned that there were "liberty trees" spread throughout the early United States, perhaps an idea worth re-creating.
Photos of placards/digital screens at the Museum of the American Revolution
(Image by Rob Kall) Details DMCA
One section of the museum explores how the American revolutionaries and colonists used boycotts to stand up against the Tyranny of George, his soldiers and tax collectors. It is ironic that the nation wrought with the help of boycotts, and not just the Boston Tea Party, is now led by legislators who would make the boycott, a tool that played such an important role in the fight for independence, illegal.
Sitting in one of the movie theaters I heard a likely Trump supporter say something to the tune that colonial loyalists to the king would likely be liberals today. I'd, at about the same time, thought how the people who were loyal to the king, who benefitted financially, would most likely have been right wingers today. The thing is, I think that the curators of the museum did a great job presenting the history, the artifacts, the narrative in a way that both people on the left and right could enjoy.
If you are visiting Philly or a local, this museum is well worth investing your time and money in. I'm not sure it is for younger children. But if they are old enough to learn history, they will have a great time.