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New Civil War museum offers ‘valuable insight’comment (0)

August 21, 2008

By Linda Holloway

The new Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center opened in April 2008. The $103 million museum and visitors center is a joint project by the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service.

Inside, the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War uses a variety of interactive exhibits, displays, immersive cinematic productions and research resources; the 139,000-square-foot facility provides valuable insight into the details of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Cyclorama is currently under restoration and will open to the public Sept. 26.

• Twelve galleries with more than 300,000 objects and artifacts and 700,000 archival materials, one of the most extensive in the world. In the collection is a physician’s journal used by Dr. J.W. C. O’Neal to list and identify the locations of several thousand Confederate dead so that family members could locate their loved ones’ bodies and return them home. There is also a patriotic apron, a sapling crutch used by George Kistler and a portable wooden field desk used by Gen. Robert E. Lee, believed to have been used during the Battle of Gettysburg.

• Interactive stations and hands-on experiences are located throughout the museum. Five film galleries include short video presentations on the causes of the war, the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg and the results of the war.  The two Voices Theaters feature readings from battle participants.

• The Special Exhibits Gallery uses temporary and traveling exhibits to broaden the number of topics covered in the museum and displays items on loan from Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

• A 22-minute feature film, “A New Birth of Freedom.”

• The Cyclorama Gallery displays the newly conserved cyclorama painting titled “The Battle of Gettysburg,” including the re-created skyline, canopy and three-dimensional diorama that have been missing for more than 40 years.

• A computer resource room gives visitors access to information about the people, the battle, the collection and the monuments.

• The Ford Motor Company Fund Education Center is a multipurpose educational facility for teacher workshops, classroom use and long-distance learning programs.

• The Refreshment Saloon food service area offers visitors the opportunity to experience Civil War-era recipes.

• A museum bookstore includes an extensive selection of Gettysburg, Civil War and Lincoln-related titles for all ages, as well as a variety of Gettysburg-related gifts and memorabilia.

For more information, visit www.gettysburgfoundation.org.

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