Opening Wednesday: Museum of the American Revolution

Posted in museums by Editor on April 18, 2017

Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia. Robert A.M. Stern Architects LLP

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From the Museum:

The Museum of the American Revolution, which opens in the heart of historic Philadelphia on April 19, 2017, will explore the dynamic story of the American Revolution using its rich collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, letters, diaries, and works of art. Immersive galleries, theater experiences, and recreated historical environments will bring to life the events, people, and ideals of our nation’s founding and engage people in the history and continuing relevance of the American Revolution. The Museum is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization.

The Museum of the American Revolution will bring to life the events, people, and ideals of the founding of the United States and inspire a deep appreciation of the importance of the struggle that established a nation. With original artifacts, immersive galleries, dynamic theaters, and recreated historical environments, the experience will take visitors on a chronological journey from the roots of conflict in the 1760s through the creation of the American republic. Along the way, visitors will learn about the rise of the armed resistance to British taxation, the creation of the Declaration of Independence, the long years of warfare that achieved victory, and the Revolution’s continuing relevance.

The Museum rises three stories above the street, encompassing 118,000 total square feet, including permanent and temporary exhibit galleries, theaters, education spaces, collection storage, a café, a retail store, offices, and a welcoming rotunda. Located at the corner of Third and Chestnut Streets, the state-of-the-art building was designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Visitors enter the Museum through a domed bronze-cladded entrance on Third Street into the rotunda, which features a dramatic window looking out to the activity on Chestnut Street. The cross-vaulted ceiling features an illuminated laylight representing the six-pointed star from Washington’s Standard flag, which is in the Museum’s collection.

The ground floor interior is organized around a skylit central interior court featuring terrazzo floors and an elliptical staircase, which provides a dramatic pathway to the Museum’s second  floor exhibition galleries. Serving as the crossroads of the Museum, the Main Court also provides access to a 190-seat theater where visitors will view the Museum’s orientation film; 5,000 square feet of temporary exhibition and program space; a retail shop; and a café with seating on a terrace that opens to the sidewalk on Third Street.

At the top of the sweeping Grand Staircase, the second floor features 18,000 square feet of galleries and a 100-seat theater dedicated to George Washington’s Headquarters Tent. The third floor includes staff offices and an elegant special event and programs space with views of Carpenters’ Hall, the First Bank of the United States, and Independence Hall through nearly floor-to-ceiling windows and an open-air balcony.

The Museum’s lower level includes classrooms for students and other groups, collection storage, and will later include a discovery center, where children can explore their own role in making history.


Now Open: American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on April 18, 2017

From the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation:

2017 is a pivotal year at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, two premier living-history museums in two corners of America’s Historic Triangle that offer year-round experiences, compelling special exhibitions, events, and programs that immerse visitors into the story of America’s beginnings.

The Grand Opening Celebration of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown March 23–April 4 culminates the museum’s 10-year transformation from the Yorktown Victory Center. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown presents a renewed national perspective on the meaning and impact of the Revolution through introductory film, timeline, expansive gallery exhibits with nearly 500 artifacts, interactive displays and experiential theaters, and new settings for hands-on interpretive experiences in expanded re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. The celebration launches the new museum with daily highlights of one of America’s 13 original states in the order that they ratified the Constitution, with a dedication ceremony on April 1. Patriotic festivities include gallery tours, living-history programs, artillery firings, flag-raising ceremonies, military musical performances, military re-enactments, lectures, and children’s activities.

Located next to Yorktown National Battlefield, the Yorktown Victory Center opened in 1976 as one of three Virginia visitor centers for the Bicentennial of the American Revolution. Structural and exhibit improvements were implemented in the 1990s, broadening the museum’s focus to encompass the entire Revolution. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is the realization of a master plan adopted in 2007. The plan called for replacing the 1976 facility, with the new building positioned on the 22-acre site to allow for continued operation throughout construction, and repositioning and reconstructing the encampment and farm. A new 80,000-square-foot building opened in March 2015, with a theater for showings of Revolution-theme films, an illustrated timeline spanning the second half of the 18th century, and a gift shop and cafe. An important element of the new building is an education center, with five classrooms and a separate entrance, to serve student groups and the general public with dynamic, interactive learning experiences.

The museum’s inaugural special exhibition—AfterWARd: The Revolutionary Veterans Who Built America—debuts June 10 and follows the post-war stories of veterans of the Siege of Yorktown and how they went on after the war to shape the America we know today. A series of plays, performances and public lectures June through November feature Revolutionary War veterans James Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette and Henry Knox as well as issues facing modern-day veterans.

At Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, visitors this spring can experience new interactive gallery exhibits exploring the Powhatan Indian, English and west central African cultures that converged in the 1600s. As part of a phased gallery enhancement, touch-screen panels allow visitors to compare and contrast each culture’s language, religion, government, economy and family structure. Jamestown Settlement’s expansive gallery exhibits debuted in 2006 in time for America’s 400th Anniversary commemoration in 2007, and are now being refreshed a decade later with new technology.

Four hundred years after the 1617 death of Pocahontas in England, her image and legend live on. Using depictions of Pocahontas from across the centuries, Jamestown Settlement presents Pocahontas Imagined, a special exhibition opening July 15 that illuminates the reasons behind her enduring legacy as well as her impression on popular culture and art. The six-month exhibition features Pocahontas memorabilia, advertisements, and interactive experiences.

Outdoors, visitors can examine artistic patterns, lines, and colors in objects found in Jamestown Settlement’s re-created Powhatan Indian village, ships and fort. Public lectures in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts take place September 5, September 13, and October 3.

Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 at the Colonial Parkway next to Historic Jamestowne, administered by the National Park Service and Jamestown Rediscovery (on behalf of Preservation Virginia). The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown near Yorktown Battlefield, administered by the National Park Service.




2017 Charles Eldredge Prize | Transporting Visions

Posted in books by Editor on April 18, 2017

Press release (13 April 2017) from the Smithsonian:

Jennifer L. Roberts, Transporting Visions: The Movement of Images in Early America (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2014), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-0520251847, $60 / £42.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has awarded the 2017 Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art to Jennifer L. Roberts, the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, for her book Transporting Visions: The Movement of Images in Early America (University of California Press, 2014). The jurors wrote in a joint statement: “Roberts’s adventurous account provides an exciting indication of where the field of American art is going as it pushes analysis of visual material into new terrain.”

The three jurors who awarded the $3,000 prize were Jennifer Greenhill, associate professor of art history at the University of Southern California; Jessica May, deputy director and Robert and Elizabeth Nanovic Chief Curator at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine; and Akela Reason, associate professor of history at the University of Georgia.

The jurors continued: “Transporting Visions: The Movement of Images in Early America [is] a book of rare ambition whose impact on the field is undeniable. Methodologically sophisticated in its treatment of the material properties of objects on the move—the literal ‘weight and heft’ of things in the physical world—Roberts demonstrates just how much art historians have to contribute to contemporary, cross-disciplinary debates about the complex meanings of matter. The arguments about John Singleton Copley, John James Audubon, and Asher B. Durand are elegantly conceived and tightly crafted, making the book truly a pleasure to read. Rarely does such a field-shaping book come along.”

Roberts is the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. She teaches American art from the colonial period to the present, with particular focus on issues of landscape, expedition, material culture theory, and the history and philosophy of science. Roberts is the author of Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson and History (2004) and Jasper Johns/In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print (2012). She is the co-author of the forthcoming catalog raisonné of Jasper Johns’ monotypes and is working on a book, The Matrix, about the broad cultural and philosophical implications of the physical operations of printing. She received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University (1992) and earned her doctorate in art history from Yale University (2000). Roberts currently holds a Harvard College Professorship that was awarded for distinguished research and undergraduate teaching. She will occupy the Slade Professorship in Fine Arts at Cambridge University in 2019.

Roberts will give the annual Eldredge Prize lecture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in the spring of 2018. More information about the prize, along with a list of past winners, is available here.



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