I have waited for three years for the Museum of the American Revolution to open and I have to acknowledge that my expectations were set amongst the cosmos. So when Big D. and I finally arranged a day to visit, I was ready.
The building is beautiful and the staircase leading upstairs is spectacular with a painting of George Washington in front of his field tent. The tent is the museum’s prize possession and the museum has built a theatre telling the story of the famed canvas. The screen lifted and I was able to view the tent -from my theatre seat behind glass. The only thing holding me back from jumping out of my seat and putting my nose on that glass was Big D’s grasp on my belt loop. When I go to a museum I want to view the objects, get a feeling from them, absorb their history. This was not so with George’s tent. I was denied the opportunity to hunt for the embroidery that the video explained and to view the inside of the tent because the flaps were closed. I was not given the chance to peek inside and imagine what it would have been like for George to be in that tent talking strategy with other leaders of the cause.
We continued through and the museum and the building and galleries are just so wonderful and really time fitting. The artifacts are given care and thought in their displays, but here is where it gets dicey for me. I have read that the approach of the museum is based on science museums in as that science museums ask questions and the M*AR wanted the visitor to ask questions. I don’t think a history museum should expect visitors to ask questions but rather create dialogue and discussion about the artifact or event. I have to say, this museum disappointed. I feel it left out the flavor of what these men and women were trying to achieve , at what cost, and what was the driving force. Philadelphia has some of the country’s elite universities and colleges right in in it’s backyard. Grab a history major, dress him/her in colonial wear and have them engage with the visitors about the artifacts and events of the times.
The Bluecadet agency did a spectacular job with the interactive media experiences which are dispersed throughout the exhibits. However, I want to see the real thing. I want to be able to see the calligrapher’s own handwriting. Understanding artifacts are rare and fragile, but so is the Mona Lisa in the Louve. I get to see her, however not the documents presented in the immersive galleries.
I do think this is a museum is a must see, but enter with some trepidation. The museum tells an abridged story, but a story nonetheless that needs to be told and remembered. It is young, just like our nation, and I have nothing but hope that M*AR will add to it’s visitors experiences. You can check out the museums website Here.