‘Hands-On’ Experiences in Exhibition Galleries Help Visitors Make a Personal Connection To People of the Revolution
YORKTOWN, Va. – From innovative computer-based interactives to intriguing touchable objects, “test your knowledge” question panels and fiber-optic displays, the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown exhibition galleries offer an array of hands-on experiences that engage visitors in making a personal connection to the Revolutionary period.
British Colonial America in 1763, an interactive map that displays colonial demographics, is the first of seven computer interactives located within the galleries. Personal Stories of the Revolution, featuring actors in period attire who portray 20 different people of the Revolution, is illustrated with images of artifacts connected to their lives and incorporates a personality quiz. Battles of the Revolutionary War provides information and locations on more than 150 battles and skirmishes of the American Revolution. Battle Game allows visitors, using a touch table, to command troops during the battles of Cowpens, Camden or Kings Mountain in South Carolina. U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights presents question-and-answer scenarios and a document explorer showing how the legacy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights applies to Americans today. A Liberty Tree, to be “planted” in early 2017, invites contributions from both museum and online visitors of their thoughts on liberty to display on lanterns hanging from its branches. The United States of America in 1791 is an interactive map that allows comparisons with the data from the 1763 map and shows migration patterns.
Throughout the galleries, visitors have the opportunity to touch reproductions of some of the 18th-century objects on exhibit, including an American Indian gorget, stove plate, cartridge box, British “Brown Bess” musket and cannon balls. Touchable reproductions of a tobacco crate, sugar nippers, cowry shells and shoe buckles accompany exhibits on economic and domestic aspects of the Revolutionary period. An operable stamp embosser marks paper with a 1765 tax stamp impression.
“Test your knowledge” exhibits, in which the answers to questions are revealed behind sliding panels, illuminate the background of a portrait of King George III, items imported from Britain prior to the Revolution, and the saga of James Forten, an African American who refused an offer to go to England after his capture by the British from an American warship. Visitors can compare the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution in a sliding panel exhibit and turn a wheel to compare methods of travel in the late-18th century with today.
Push-buttons on fiber-optic displays highlight sections of the Declaration of Independence pertaining to ideals, grievances and actions, and trace the routes to Yorktown traveled in 1781 by British, American and French armies.
The computer-based (or digital) interactives were produced by Cortina Productions of McLean and the mechanical exhibits by Design and Production of Lorton, working with media production, curatorial and exhibit services staff of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the Virginia state agency that administers the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Jamestown Settlement history museums.