Museum of the American Revolution

Christopher Tremoglie, Managing Editor

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History buffs and Philly enthusiasts, behold, a new museum is upon us. Philadelphia is rich in history and as the birth place of the cradle of liberty, its celebratory culture of Revolutionary America has added one more museum honoring the great experiment that is America – Museum of the American Revolution.

Slated to open its doors to the public on April 19th, the new museum will honor the complexities associated with the war for Independence. Located at Third and Chestnut Streets on the site of the original Philadelphia Visitor Center, the $120 million redbrick museum was a longtime coming. Originally to be constructed in Valley Forge National Historical Park, years of bureaucratic fighting and financial shortcomings led the museum’s construction to be relocated to just a few blocks from where our great country began.

Former mayor and governor, Ed Rendell was in attendance and he lauded the struggle to get the museum built. “This has been a 14-year endeavor,” he said. “I am an optimist, and there were many times I didn’t think we could do it.” He jokingly referred to the struggle the museum faced as its “Valley Forge moment” – referencing the struggle the Continental Army faced during a gruesome winter in the Revolutionary War.

The museum is full of many Revolutionary War artifacts from muskets to porcelain bowls to the most adorable 18th century baby booties you will ever see. The museum’s goal is to present the tale of the War for Independence in a chronological order of sorts. It tells of our country’s birth through stories of the war and 18th century ideologies. The museum has narrative comprised for 4 distinct sections:

What caused the revolution and how did it attract farmers and blacksmiths into revolutionaries?

How did a group farmers and blacksmiths defeat the world’s most powerful military?

Was the war really revolutionary?

What did it mean after the unexpected victory by the new American Republic?

Some of the highlights of the museum were the Liberty Tree which is an 18 foot replica of the first “Liberty Tree” originally located in Boston. Here, you can listen to reenactments of historical debates about the taxes being imposed by Britain on the colonists and what spurred action. The trees allegedly were meeting places of a town hall of sorts where groups like the “Sons of Liberty” first conferred.

Another interesting tidbit I enjoyed was timber from the Old North Bridge. This was the location of the famous “shot heard round the world” between the British military and Continental militia. This event occurred on April 19, 1775 and is known as the beginning of the American Revolution – and the main reason the museum’s official opening date is April 19th.

Life-sized figures gives the museum charisma and other relics such as pistols, cannonballs and early American flags give insight into the nature of the war. As I passed by an old drum set, I could picture Revolutionary era Americans prepping for battle as the fife and drum corps readied the troops for war.

I was quite fond of the museum and recommend visiting it – especially if you are a history buff. It feels right at home in the Old City section of Philadelphia – much more so than if it were located in Valley Forge. It is a neat and technologically impressive museum that adds to the legend and lore of the birth place of our country.

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Museum of the American Revolution