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VA250 hosts American Revolution Experience traveling exhibit at Virginia State Capitol

The innovative pop-up exhibition includes display panels and interactive digital kiosks that use storytelling, illustration, technology and unique artifacts and primary accounts to connect modern audiences with the people and places that shaped the birth of our nation.

Trevor Dickerson

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The Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission (VA250) has announced the opening of the “American Revolution Experience”at the Virginia State Capitol.

The innovative pop-up exhibition includes display panels and interactive digital kiosks that use storytelling, illustration, technology and unique artifacts and primary accounts to connect modern audiences with the people and places that shaped the birth of our nation. Created through a collaboration between the American Battlefield Trust and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, the exhibit is also made possible by generous matching funds from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program battlefield interpretation grants.

The exhibit will run through August 15 in the Capitol’s underground extension at 1000 Bank Street, Richmond, VA, 23218, and is free and open to the public. Visitor parking is available.

“On behalf of the VA250 Commission, we are pleased to partner with the Daughters of the American Revolution and the American Battlefield Trust to bring the American Revolution Experience to the Virginia State Capitol,” VA250 Executive Director Cheryl Wilson said. “This innovative exhibit offers an engaging and interactive way for Virginians of all ages to connect with the rich history of the Revolutionary War and the stories of the people who shaped our nation.”

The “American Revolution Experience” launched online in its first digital-only iteration during the summer of 2022 to rapid acclaim and received a Bronze Award in the Education, Art, & Culture division of the second annual Anthem Awards, an initiative of the Webby Awards celebrating purpose and mission-driven work. It was also a finalist in the “People’s Choice” category of the Webbys themselves.

“The American Revolution would not have happened without the decisions, sacrifices, and valor of ordinary people,” said DAR President General Pamela Rouse Wright. “DAR is honored to have collaborated with the American Battlefield Trust on this initiative to highlight some of our Patriots and their roles in the founding of this great country. We are thrilled for people in communities across the country to learn more about these individuals.”

The traveling exhibit includes 12 panels highlighting thematic connections between profiled individuals and three interactive kiosks that connect to the full digital biographies, provide documentary context on the Revolutionary War and offer information on how to visit the places tied to these individuals today. Both online and on-site, the “American Revolution Experience” features custom illustrations by South Carolina-based artist Dale Watson. The exhibit also draws from documents and objects in DAR’s collection, as well as the Trust’s industry leading digital interpretation resources.

“Independence may have been declared in Philadelphia by the Declaration’s 56 signers, but it was hard-won on the battlefields we protect by the thousands of Patriot soldiers from whom today’s Daughters trace descent,” said Trust President David Duncan. “Together, our organizations bear witness to the fact that we are not so far removed from those impactful events, that there are meaningful ways to bridge those 250 years.”

The Virginia State Capitol is among the scores of libraries, historical societies, museums, and other sites that will host the “American Revolution Experience” through the spring of 2025, introducing visitors to a cast of historical characters with diverse experiences throughout the conflict and the places they visited on their journey. A longer-term mounting of the exhibit will remain at DAR’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Individual DAR chapters across the nation have partnered with institutions in their communities to offer venues for the exhibit, booking its current complement of copies to capacity; further inquiries will be placed on a waitlist. The hosting request form and the touring calendar are available at www.battlefields.org/ontour.

The “American Revolution Experience” invites visitors to consider the choice faced by members of the revolutionary generation as tensions mounted in the 1770s: Would these ordinary citizens risk their lives and livelihoods in pursuit of liberty? Or would they remain loyal subjects of the British crown, coming into conflict with neighbors and family? The exhibit surfaces diverse viewpoints and experiences, touching on the journeys — both literal and figurative — of Patriots and Loyalists, men and women, Black and Native populations and even international allies.

Rather than focusing only on generals and famous statesmen, it introduces audiences to drummer boys, military mapmakers and other ordinary people who were impacted by global events.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.