First look: Rev­o­lu­tion­ary mu­seum comes to Philly

Rum-scented mug among mu­seum’s items His­tory buffs will be able to peer into the eyes of a “most ex­cel­lent like­ness” of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton and get an ac­tual whiff of the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War when Philadel­phia’s Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion opens next yea

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Me­gan Trim­ble

This spring, the Mu­seum of the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War will open just two blocks from In­de­pen­dence Hall.

Cu­ra­tors have scoured the coun­try for the price­less ar­ti­facts to dis­play in the mu­seum, in­clud­ing a 1770s-era creamware mug that stills smells of rum, due to the ma­te­rial it’s made of. The ves­sel was cre­ated to cel­e­brate Bos­ton’s fight for lib­erty.

“It’s like hav­ing a lit­tle sur­round-smell of the rev­o­lu­tion,” said R. Scott Stephen­son, the mu­seum vice pres­i­dent of col­lec­tions, ex­hi­bi­tions and pro­gram­ming.

The mu­seum is set to open April 19, the an­niver­sary of the open­ing bat­tles in 1775 be­tween Bri­tish troops and Amer­i­can colonists in Lex­ing­ton and Con­cord and the “shot heard round the world.”

The 118,000-square-foot mu­seum just two blocks from In­de­pen­dence Hall will fea­ture a col­lec­tion of art, printed works, im­mer­sive ex­hibits and ob­jects from the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Pe­riod.

One of the mar­quee ex­hibits will be Wash­ing­ton’s head­quar­ters tent dur­ing the Val­ley Forge win­ter of 1777-78. It will be in a sealed en­vi­ron­ment but view­able through a glass wall.

Mu­seum staff un­packed the mu­seum’s 3,000-ob­ject main col­lec­tion, which was shipped from a se­cret stor­age lo­ca­tion in sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia, in phases and are mak­ing fi­nal con­ser­va­tion ef­forts and plac­ing ob­jects for dis­play. About 500 of those ob­jects will be on dis­play for the pub­lic on a re­volv­ing ba­sis.

Re­cently un­packed was a terra cotta and plas­ter bust of Wash­ing­ton that hadn’t been pub­licly dis­played for gen­er­a­tions.

“He’s been hid­ing away,” Stephen­son said of the bust, which was in a Philadel­phia store and then passed through a num­ber of city fam­i­lies. “When it was ex­hib­ited it was noted in the press at the time that peo­ple who had known Wash­ing­ton said that was a ‘most ex­cel­lent like­ness.’”

For Stephen­son, some of the great­est ma­te­rial in the col­lec­tion came from pri­vate col­lec­tors.

“These pieces have come from all over, and our lenders are lit­er­ally ev­ery­thing from de­scen­dants and fam­i­lies to col­lec­tors who have hid­den these pieces away in bank vaults and in

stud­ies and base­ments and think, ‘But what’s the point in hav­ing all of this stuff if I can’t share it with the world?’” he said.

De­scen­dants of a Mas­sachusetts sol­dier have do­nated a new­born’s shoes made from a Bri­tish red coat brought back at the end of the war and pre­served through gen­er­a­tions. Writ­ten ac­counts tell the story of the young man, who went off to war in 1775, rose to the po­si­tion of sergeant in 1783, lost his brother in an at­tack that ended in a mass grave burial, and re­turned home to marry and have a

JACQUELINE LARMA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this Mon­day photo, un­der a spot­light, Gary Davis, left, and Paul Syn­na­mon hang a mu­ral de­pict­ing the Bat­tle of Bunker Hill as con­struc­tion con­tin­ues at the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion in Philadel­phia.

JACQUELINE LARMA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this Mon­day photo, a grand stair­case is seen as con­struc­tion con­tin­ues at the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion in Philadel­phia.

JACQUELINE LARMA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this Mon­day photo, chil­dren’s booties from the 1780’s be­long­ing to James Daven­port of Dorch­ester, Mass. are seen

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