So far, 2019 is set to be a great year for new Civil War museum exhibits. Featuring priceless artifacts and new interpretations, museums across the country – from California to North Carolina – are taking part in commemorating and preserving Civil War material culture and stories.
Many of us have heard that the American Civil War Museum set the grand opening date of its brand new 29,000-square-foot facility for May 4, 2019. Though not a historic structure, the museum’s $25 million building utilizes the Tredegar Ironworks’ ruins as part of the main lobby area. Additionally, it will sit between the Pattern Building and the Administrative Building, both nineteenth-century structures.
Not only will the museum feature many new artifacts, it will also display them in more innovative interpretations, such as using see-through floors to walk over shoes, belt buckles, and bullets. One of the featured permanent galleries will be titled, “A People’s Contest: Struggles for Nation and Freedom in Civil War America,” reflecting the museum’s focus on diverse voices of the Civil War. The museum will also have an interactive theater, state-of-the-art conservation facility, self-guided tour programs, STEM exhibits, and a larger multi-use event space.
At the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, “Freedom! A Promise Disrupted: North Carolina, 1862-1901” will tackle the tough history of African Americans in North Carolina from the Emancipation Proclamation throughout Reconstruction and beyond. Most notably, they interpret this exhibit through the eyes of black people, particularly how they overcame adversity and claimed their own freedom. The exhibit is currently open until July 4, 2019.
Long awaited, the Atlanta History Center has set the opening of its anticipated newly restored Cyclorama of the Battle of Atlanta for February 22, 2019. The center has made sure that the Cyclorama was not just restored for quiet exhibition. Instead, the 132-year-old work of art will be a multimedia experience, titled: “Cyclorama: The Big Picture.” As “the IMAX of their time,” the exhibit will be a 12-minute, 360-degree show.
Out west, the California African American Museum has an exhibit on California’s role in the institution of slavery, from 1848 until 1865. Titled “California Bound: Slavery on the New Frontier,” the curators used documents, photographs, and more to show the Golden State’s conflicted and complex relationship with slavery. According to the museum’s official website, “the exhibition highlights major historical events and untold stories of those impacted, and it considers how the state’s vacillation on enslavement produced ripple effects in America’s political structures that are still being felt today.” The curators also do guided tours of the special exhibit. The exhibition opened in September last year and will end April 28, 2019.
Beginning March 2019, the Missouri Civil War Museum is launching its public programs, which will feature prominent and local historians. That month also, the museum will feature a brand new exhibit, titled “Treasures of the Generals.” It will feature personal items of several prominent Civil War generals from Missouri.
Make sure you go out and explore some of these museums and their latest exhibits. There are countless others out there preserving artifacts, stories, and more through education and exhibition. If you know of another museum with a new Civil War exhibit, please share below.