Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
Officials cut ribbon on Valley Forge National Historical Park’s renovated Visitors Center
New museum space, renovated restrooms, and other amenities are part of the Center’s improved features
VALLEY FORGE » Valley Forge National Historical Park dedicated its newly renovated visitor center on Feb. 16. The park held an outdoor ribbon-cutting ceremony with park leadership, partners, and local elected officials to celebrate this momentous occasion. The visitor center was originally dedicated in 1976, and this is the first major renovation in its history.
“We are excited to welcome visitors into this beautiful new space that has been the result of years of hard work,” said park Visitor and Community Engagement Director Adam Gresek. “With this new exhibit, our rangers can better tell all the diverse stories that took place here in Valley Forge.”
The visitor center was originally dedicated in 1976, and this is the first major renovation in its history. The $12 million project includes updated restrooms, efficient lighting, improved spaces for park staff and partners, plus upgraded security and fire protection, improved collections storage, an all-new HVAC system, windows, flooring, carpets, signage, and a variety of energy efficiency improvements. The center welcomes 2 million visitors annually and has a $36 million economic impact in the Valley Forge region.
The most significant change is a brand-new museum exhibition telling the history of the 1777-1778 Winter Encampment, and how the citizens of Pennsylvania worked to preserve Valley Forge in the following decades. This will also be the first time many objects from the George C. Neumann and John F. Reed Collections of Revolutionary War artifacts will be on display since the renovations began. Accompanying the artifacts are new accessible display panels, interactive videos, a toy log hut building activity, and a complete audio walkthrough for visually impaired visitors.
Valley Forge National Historical Park is nationally significant as the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. Few places evoke the spirit of patriotism and independence, represent individual and collective sacrifice, or demonstrate the resolve, tenacity and determination of the people of the United States to be free as well as Valley Forge.
The historic landscapes,
structures, objects, and archeological and natural resources at Valley Forge are tangible links to one of the most defining events in United States’ history. Here, the Continental Army under Washington’s leadership emerged as a cohesive and disciplined fighting force. The Valley Forge experience is fundamental to both American history and American myth and remains a source of inspiration
for Americans and the world.
The dedication also closely coincides with the February 21 observance of Washington’s Birthday. Visitors at the park that day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. can tour the exhibition and then have a celebratory cupcake provided by the Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County or wish Washington himself a happy birthday.