Jamestown Settlement Exhibition Galleries Refreshed in 2019
Jamestown Settlement has completed a large-scale, phased renovation to sections of its 30,000-square-foot permanent exhibition galleries. The $10.6 million exhibition gallery refresh incorporates new historical research and technology to present historical events to visitors in innovative ways, including interactive touch screens, immersive exhibits and a new multimedia experiential theater. New exhibits and a “Bacon’s Rebellion” experiential theater opened in stages in 2019, with and a new exhibit on Pocahontas debuted in late November 2019.
The galleries, which debuted on the eve of America’s 400th Anniversary commemoration in 2007, explore the Powhatan Indian, English and west central African cultures that converged in Virginia in the 1600s through artifact-filled cases, dioramas and short films. Visitors can get a glimpse of life throughout the 17th century, including the first census showing the Virginia colony’s population in 1620.
The first phase of gallery work, completed in Spring 2017 for $2 million, added an interactive technology wall to compare and contrast each culture’s language, religion, government, economy, family structure, recreation and art, as well as projected personal stories on monitors and life-size screens.
The project was funded by a public-private partnership by the Commonwealth of Virginia and private gifts to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc.
Bacon’s Rebellion Theater
The story of “Bacon’s Rebellion” – a 1676 armed rebellion of Virginia colonists led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of governor William Berkeley – unfolds across multimedia screens in a 124-seat Rebellion Theater, which debuted in September 2019. Similar to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown’s Siege of Yorktown Theater, visitors experience the story through multi-sensory special effects and smell smoke and gunfire, feel arrows fly, feel the heat from the fire burning Jamestown, and hear the sound of a swarm of files seen as an omen before the rebellion.
New Research on the First Recorded Africans in 1619 and Powhatan’s Capital at Werowocomoco
In the existing “From Africa to Virginia” theater, three-dimensional panels have been added along with new information about the arrival of the first recorded Africans in 1619 and the growth of slavery through 1699, when Virginia’s capital moved inland to Williamsburg. Exhibits also feature new research about Powhatan’s capital at Werowocomoco and Pocahontas. Werowocomoco, as well as archaeological findings at Powhatan’s capital, was the focus of a Jamestown Settlement special exhibition in 2010.
Building New Gallery Exhibits
DLR Group of Washington, D.C., served as lead architect. Gallagher & Associates of Silver Spring, Md., was exhibit designer. Cortina Productions of McLean, Va., produced the films and interactives in the exhibition galleries.