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Museum of the American Revolution

Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Philadelphia’s newest cultural institution… 240 years in the making!

The History

Everyone knows that the first battles of the Revolution took place outside of Boston at Lexington and Concord.  But while we look back today and see those battles as the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the actual participants at the time had no idea what those battles would begin.
Most think of the Battles of Lexington and Concord as a Battle between the United States of America and Great Britain.  But in reality when the famous “shot heard round the world” was fired on April 19th, 1775, the United States of America did not exist yet and only one colony, Massachusetts, participated in the battles.  The actions of the brave Massachusetts militiamen lit the fuse that would eventually ignite the Revolutionary War, but to find the location where that war would truly begin, you need to travel about 300 miles south… to Philadelphia.
A group of delegates representing the thirteen original colonies would meet in Philadelphia for the Second Continental Congress less than a month after the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  It was in Philadelphia that America would come together and decide to support Massachusetts, electing George Washington the General of the newly formed Continental Army.  Then a year later as all hope of resolving their disputes with the British faded, it was in Philadelphia that The Declaration of Independence was signed, officially severing the colonists’ ties to Great Britain and forming a new nation, the United States of America.  
Excerpt from The Declaration of Independence, engraved onto the Museum of the American Revolution
Philadelphia would go on to serve as the capital of this fledgling nation throughout most of the Revolution and the years that followed.  It was in Philadelphia that the United States Constitution, America’s governing document to this day, would be drafted, debated and signed.  Throughout most of its first ten years, the new United States Government under the Constitution would operate here in Philadelphia.
But Philadelphia was more than just a place where the revolution was planned and debated.  It also served as a primary military target, an occupied city, and a battlefield.  General William Howe, commander-in-chief of British Forces in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, made capturing the capital city of Philadelphia, one of his top priorities.  His goal would be achieved following his victory over George Washington in the Battle of Brandywine. Washington would attempt to win back Philadelphia a month later in the Battle of Germantown but instead suffered a crushing defeat in one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolutionary War.  After two tough defeats Washington would then hold the Continental Army together through the tough winter at nearby Valley Forge, inspiring his soldiers to never give up hope.
Because of this, Philadelphia is arguably the most significant city in terms of American Revolutionary War history and the perfect location for the new Museum of the American Revolution.  Now decades in the making, the Museum of the American Revolution will open in just a few months on April 19th, 2017, the 242nd anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

What to See

When the Museum of the American Revolution opens it will boast one of the most expansive collections of American Revolutionary War artifacts in the world.  Artifacts will be as interesting as they will be diverse.  You’ll see some of what you would expect such as weapons used by British, French, and American Forces, but then you’ll also see interesting items such as an authentic revolution era creamwear mug.  According to R. Scott Stephenson, Vice President of Collections, the unique mug still actually smells like the rum that the mug contained hundreds of years ago, allowing visitors to not only see history, but also smell it.
Artifacts such as these are just the tip of the iceberg; many more will be contained in the over 100,000 square-foot newly constructed museum that was designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects.  Other artifacts include wooden canteens, powder horns, swords, muskets, uniforms and currency.  The Museum of the American Revolution will even include journals and letters of soldiers, allow visitors to delve deep into what life was like during the battle for American Independence.  Significant works of art will round out the amazing collection.
Perhaps the most impressive artifact of all though, is Washington’s Headquarters Tent.  This authentic artifact was actually used by General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War as both his sleeping quarters and his office.  
George Washington's Headquarters Tent - Photo Credit: Museum of the American Revolution
Aside from these impressive artifacts, visiting the Museum of the American Revolution will also be an immersive and dynamic experience, allowing visitors to take a journey through interactive theaters that help visitors feel as though they’ve been transported back in time to experience the revolution first hand.  Visitors will be able to enter immersive settings that allow them to visit Boston’s Liberty Tree, enter an Oneida Native American Council House, fight in the Battle of Brandywine, and board the deck of a privateer ship.

Insider Info

With so much important history and artifacts, the Museum of the American Revolution will no doubt quickly become a prime destination for students visiting Philadelphia on field trips.  And we here at The Constructional Walking Tour believe that one of our Historic Walking Tours in conjunction with a visit to the Museum of the American Revolution will make for a one of a kind field trip that students will never forget.  
As Philadelphia’s leading providers of school field trips for students of all ages for nearly fifteen years, we know a little something about field trips.  So whether you’re a long time customer of ours, or if you’re taking your class to Philadelphia for the first time, we’d love to help organize a field trip for you.  We can work with you to create an itinerary (see our Suggested Itineraries here) that would enable you to take The Constitutional Walking Tour and visit the Museum of the American Revolution. Leave the details to us - you won’t have to worry about anything and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your trip is in good hands. Then on the day of your trip, one of our highly trained and friendly guides will not only give your students an excellent tour of historic Philadelphia, but also answer any questions and direct you exactly where you need to go.  We can even offer you a custom tour that begins and ends right at the Museum of the American Revolution so you never have to worry about navigating the city on your own.
Museum of the American Revolution

How to Get There

The Museum of the American Revolution is conveniently located right in the heart of Old City Philadelphia.  Guests of The Constitutional Walking Tour will see the museum right on the tour as it is located directly across the street from the First Bank of the United States, one of the stops on our tour.  To get to the Museum of the American Revolution from the National Constitution Center, where our tours begin and end, just head down 5th street toward Independence Hall and take a left on Chestnut Street.  The Museum of the American Revolution will be  on your right hand side at the corner of Third and Market Streets.
If you’re arriving via public transit, the Market Frankford Line has a subway station just two blocks away on 2nd and Market Streets. If you’re planning to drive, numerous nearby parking garages ensure you’ll never have to waste too much time searching for parking.



Coming soon!
The Museum of the American Revolution will open April 19th, 2017

Additional Information

101 South Third Street 
Philadelphia, PA 19106
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