The heart of history

Exploring the birth of our nation: The Museum of the American Revolution, at 3rd and Chestnut streets, opened its doors to the public on Wednesday. The nonprofit museum features 16 galleries, theater shows and thousands of Revolutionary-era weapons, soldiers’ and civilians’ personal items, letters, diaries, works of art and colonial newspapers. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

By Tom Waring

The folks who run the new Museum of the American Revolution invite Philadelphians and visitors to live the dramatic story of the nation’s founding through the perspectives of the men and women who made it happen.

The museum, they say, will complement the other attractions in the heart of historic Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia was the headquarters of the Revolution,” said Michael Quinn, president and CEO of the museum. “The museum will serve as a portal to Philadelphia’s great historic landmarks — Independence Hall, Carpenters’ Hall, Franklin Court and innumerable others — making the city the richest and most exciting destination for those interested in exploring the birth of our nation.”

The museum, at 3rd and Chestnut streets, hosted a press preview last week and opened its doors to the public on Wednesday.

MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Tom Wolf, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough and political commentator Cokie Roberts were among those scheduled for the grand opening ceremony.

The April 19 opening marks the 242nd anniversary of the “shot heard ‘round the world” that ignited the Revolutionary War in 1775.

The cost to build and open the museum was $150 million, with money coming from philanthropist Gerry Lenfest, the state and other sources.

The private, nonprofit, 118-square-foot museum features a gift shop, 16 galleries and thousands of Revolutionary-era weapons, soldiers’ and civilians’ personal items, letters, diaries, works of art, theater shows and colonial newspapers.

The museum chronicles a time when people wrestled with conflicting ideals of loyalty and independence.

Perhaps the biggest attraction is George Washington’s headquarters tent, which served as his office and sleeping quarters from 1778 to 1783.

Visitors will look back at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and Washington’s Christmas crossing of the Delaware River later that year.

They’ll see recreations of armed resistance to British taxation and an angry mob pulling down a statue of King George III in New York.

MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

Another recreation is that of Independence Hall, reduced to a prison for American soldiers during the British occupation in Philadelphia.

A hands-on interactive will show visitors how soldiers and their families endured the harsh winter at the Valley Forge war camp.

Finally, visitors will learn about the 1783 Treaty of Paris granting independence, Washington’s two terms as president and subsequent death.

MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Admission is $19 for adults. The cost is $17 for active or retired military and AAA and AARP members. Children 6 or older pay $12. Tickets are valid for two consecutive days. Memberships are available.

More information is available at amrevmuseum.org ••