Fantastic Collection Of Artifacts On Display At Philadelphia’s New Revolutionary War Museum

Museum of the American Revolution. <a href=>Photo Credit</a>
Museum of the American Revolution. Photo Credit

With a little imagination, visitors to the Revolutionary War museum opening April 19 in Philadelphia will travel back in time to the 1770s. The museum will supply the artifacts and even some of the smells.

The opening date was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the first battles which started in 1775 between American colonists in Lexington and Concord and British troops.

Curators combed the country for valuable artifacts to exhibit in the museum such as a creamware mug that still retains the aroma of rum due to the material used in its manufacture. The container was made to commemorate Boston’s struggle for freedom.

It’s like supplying a small surround-smell of the Revolution, explained R. Scott Stephenson, the museum vice president of collections, exhibitions, and programming.

Occupying 118,000-square-feet, the Museum is only two blocks from Independence Hall. Featured will be a collection of immersive exhibits and objects from the Revolutionary Period in addition to art and printed works.

A premier exhibit will be the headquarters tent used by Washington during the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge. It will be contained in a sealed environment and visible through a glass wall.

Staffers unpacked the museum’s 3,000-object main collection, which had been shipped from a secret location in suburban Philadelphia for security reasons. It was done in stages, and final conservation efforts and positioning them for display is taking place. Approximately 500 of those artifacts will be shown to the public on a rotating basis.

Recently, a terracotta and plaster bust of Washington was unpacked that hadn’t been seen publicly for generations. When it was displayed, the press at the time noted that people who had known Washington remarked that it was a superb likeness, said Stephenson.

For Stephenson, some of the best material in the collection was supplied by private collectors.

Such pieces came from various quarters. Lenders are families, collectors, and descendants who stored the pieces in bank vaults, in studies and basements, he explained. They think to themselves, ‘What’s the purpose in having all this if it can’t be shared with the world?

He’s been hidden away, Stephenson said of the Washington bust, which was in a Philadelphia store and then moved through many city families.

A relative of a Massachusetts soldier donated a newborn baby’s booties handmade from a British redcoat retrieved at the war’s end and preserved by many generations, Los Angeles Times reported.

It all seems so straightforward now: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Who wouldn’t be in favor of that? However, there was heartbreak and danger. The museum wants to capture that aspect, said Stephenson.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE