Virtually Visiting the Museum of the American Revolution

The 2020 Wawa Welcome America Festival hosted a week of virtual events from June 28 through July 4 to unite Philadelphians in celebrating American independence while adhering to the city’s COVID-19 mitigation guidelines. 

The Festival notably celebrated Philadelphia’s heritage on Twitter by hosting a “Museums of the Day” campaign, where a total of 19 local museums offered behind-the-scenes looks at their exhibits. Many local museums were forced to suspend their in-person operations during the red and yellow phases of Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 reopening plan, so the Museums of the Day campaign provided Philadelphians with the chance to finally revisit their favorite galleries and artifacts.

On June 29, the Festival featured the Museum of the American Revolution as one of the “Museums of the Day.” Seeking to share the story of America’s fight for independence, the Museum of the American Revolution first opened its doors to the public on April 19, 2017, which was the 242nd anniversary of the Revolutionary War beginning during the Battles of Lexington and Concord. 

The Museum of the American Revolution began its virtual exhibition with an introduction video featuring critically acclaimed actor Michael Douglas. At the conclusion of the video, the museum offered participants a virtual tour of its iconic “Becoming Revolutionaries” and “A New Nation” exhibits. 

The “Becoming Revolutionaries” exhibit provided visitors with an overview of the key British and colonial figures involved in the American Revolution. In particular, the exhibit described King George III’s ascension to the British throne in 1761 as well as George Washington’s early aspiration to become the greatest military hero in British history. Delving into his military career, the exhibit then described how Washington transformed from an officer loyal to the British crown into the face of the revolution and the first U.S. president. 

After the “Becoming Revolutionaries” exhibit, the “A New Nation” exhibit described the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, with particular attention to the compensation veterans received for their service. According to the exhibit, many veterans were forced to beg for money after the war because they were only able to sell their claims to unpaid wages and land for mere pennies. Nearly 40 years after the war ended, the U.S. Congress helped to support struggling veterans by passing the Revolutionary War Pension Act of 1818. This act provided lifetime pensions to veterans who had served at least nine months in the Continental Army and were in need of state support. Although the act initially asked veterans to provide proof they were homeless, this requirement was removed in 1828 and 1832. The last known Revolutionary War veteran died shortly after the end of the Civil War in 1865. The U.S. government paid the last pension to a widow of a Revolutionary War veteran in 1906. 

For more information on the Museum of the American Revolution, visit their website here

Article written by Daniel Ortiz on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association.