Friday, June 10, 2011

The Pennsylvania Civil War Roadshow

Visits Gettysburg National Military Park

From June 10 through June 12, Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation are hosting the Pennsylvania Civil War Roadshow in commemoration of the war's sesquicentennial. The exhibit is essentially a traveling museum in a triple-wide trailer and discusses the commonwealth's participation in America's defining conflict. Other than the colorful broadside and outdoor displays, the vehicle also plays period music to attract visitors.

One these wooden plank signs outdoors, visitors are offered a timeline of the war's events, especially those pertaining to the state's role in the conflict. I was especially pleased to see Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G. Curtin and the Loyal War Governors' Conference (both topics explored in my forthcoming thesis) included in these informative panels. Copies of Pennsylvania newspapers from the era are seen on the reverse side.

Upon entering the Roadshow, visitors are greeted with this rather cool collage map with historic photos silhouetting each county of the state. Better yet would have been this map with the counties and prominent towns labeled so citizens could locate their community. Nevertheless, it remains visually appealing and creative. Many of these photos can be found on the Library of Congress's Digital Archives.

This placard in the portable museum describes the diverse and complicated issues and people in the war and how they ultimately transformed Pennsylvania (and the nation) into a military, industrial, and social force to be reckoned with.

One of the coolest things about the exhibits was how interactive they were. In this particular photo, one can see military epaulettes, buttons, buckles, patches, gauntlets, and other equipment available as a hands-on activity for kids and adults alike. There were also four stereoview exhibits featuring 3-D photographs of Pennsylvania sites and people of the Civil War era - this one focusing on Gettysburg resident John Burns, who fought the invading rebels outside his own community.

This famous photo of the wounded John Burns recuperating on the porch of his Gettysburg home shortly after the battle was one such photo visitors could view in 3-D. Other topics with stereoviews included the Gettysburg Address, the Soldiers' National Cemetery, the Pittsburgh Sanitary Commission Fair, and Prisoners of War. These exhibits offer a great opportunity for folks to see many of these photos the way they were intended to be viewed.

This map of Pennsylvania shows some of the major points of industry throughout the state during the war.

The exhibit also interprets post-war commemorations, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), and veteran reunions. In the background, one can see the display regarding the Gettysburg Address as well as the 3-D photo viewers included with it. Photos of Civil War soldiers and civilians from PA border the tops of the displays. Another portion of the museum included Civil War medical artifacts temporarily on loan from Gettysburg National Military Park and placed on display by curator Greg Goodell.

The exhibits were very tech-oriented. Above is one of four films regarding the state in the war. This one in particular delves into Pennsylvania's industry during the conflict as well as the industrial disaster at Allegheny Arsenal in Pittsburgh on September 17, 1862. One could also have their Civil War photo taken by camera and converted into a neat carte-de-viste style to be emailed to your computer. I also had the opportunity to enter the roadshow's recording booth where you have 90 seconds to tell your family story about the war or share a personal artifact you own. All these stories will subsequently be archived and then displayed for the sesquicentennial - a pretty cool and unique opportunity to commemorate.

If you are a citizen of the Keystone State, keep an eye out for when the Pennsylvania Civil War Roadshow will be in your area so you too can share your own piece of history! Click the link at the top of the post to see the show's schedule.

No comments:

Post a Comment