Going on Faith

Summer 2017

The Magazine for faith-based travel planners.

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going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 27 [ MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION ] PHILADELPHIA The full story of the American Revolution has never been told so well as by Philadelphia's newest museum. The Museum of the American Revolution opened in April just steps from Independence Hall. Even museum creators are impressed by early reviews. "We've done an excellent job of telling specific stories at specific sites throughout North America, but what was missing was a narrative to tie it all together," said R. Scott Stephenson, the museum's vice president for collec- tions, exhibitions and programming. "We couldn't have imagined this response to the way we've decided to tell the broader story." Through immer- sive exhibits and an extensive collection of artifacts, the museum draws visi- tors into the 18th-century experience — the time when the outcome was wholly uncertain, and kings and common men had to pick sides. "From this point in history, we look at the Revolution like the unfolding of a preordained plan, but there are so many points where things could have gone differently," Stephenson said. As visitors weave along the familiar timeline, they also hear many of the stories that don't make it into history books, like debates between Native Americans about how to preserve themselves in the midst of civil war or the Colonial slaves who donned red coats on the path to freedom. Loyalists get their due as well. The interactive side of the experience includes withstanding a British infan- try charge in the Battlefield Theater, designing a soldier's uniform to fit a specific loyalty and climbing aboard a life-size replica privateer ship. The museum highlight is a theatrical presentation of George Washington's field tent; after a short film, the curtain sweeps away to reveal the space that served as his wartime bedroom and headquarters. www.amrevmuseum.org [ AMERICAN WRITERS MUSEUM ] CHICAGO The country is studded with small museums dedicated to single authors, but until now, no one museum has ventured to explore all of America's greats under one roof. This May, the American Writers Museum opened on the sec- ond floor of a vintage building along Michigan Avenue in Chicago; its mission is to explore the influence of American writers on culture. "We've reached the point where our country has been around long enough that we can take a look back and see how important writers have been to the creation and continuation of culture," said Carey Cranston, the museum's inaugural president. "It shows how we think through our writing." The trick, Cranston said, was translating the solitary experience of reading into an interactive museum experience through touch screens and high-tech multimedia installations. Based on visitor response in opening weeks, the exhibits are as absorbing as a good book. The anchor exhibit is Writers Hall — a dramatic display of 100 authors and 100 works. By turning small display boards for each, visitors get varied sen- sory experiences, like hearing "Oh! Susanna" or smelling cookies from Julia Child. Other permanent galleries treat the art of writing — how iconic works came to be and how writers go about creating those works today. There are also inviting spaces for reading and, should the mood hit, spots to sit down at a typewriter and bang out something inspired. An early crowd favorite is a touch screen that reveals origins of words and phrases like "fren- emy," "Bible Belt" and "shotgun wedding." The current temporary installments include the giant, continuous scroll on which Jack Kerouac typed "On the Road" in the span of three weeks. One of the most culturally significant works in recent history, the scroll is a fitting inaugural piece for a museum that hopes to show the impact writers can have on the nation's future. www.americanwritersmuseum.org [ MUSEUM OF THE BIBLE ] WASHINGTON, D.C. As Washington continues to distance itself from religion, an enormous $500 million Museum of the Bible is moving into the neighborhood — three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The high-tech brick-and-glass structure will be opening in November and will chronicle the history, narrative and impact of the Bible. Each of these three themes will have a floor of the museum dedicated to it, with the history floor featuring many of the great biblical discoveries: writings dating to the time of Abraham, fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls and early New Testament writings. The roof will play host to a garden and Middle Eastern fare dating to biblical times. Executive director Tony Zeiss said the museum has gone to great lengths to present a factual, nondenominational account of the Bible, enlisting several independent consultants and scholars to help design the exhibits. "We want all people of all ages and of all faiths to see our museum," Zeiss said. "We aren't a ministry, and we aren't pushing religion." Organizers say they are building the most technologically advanced museum in the world. Around $42 million is going into technology alone. "It's not going to be your grandpa's museum," Zeiss said. "This goes way beyond walking over to a glass and looking down." Each visitor will be given a personal touring device the size of a smartphone to navigate the exhibits. The system works within six inches of accuracy throughout the 430,000-square-foot museum and allows for 3-D interactivity at several sta- tions. The devices will also guide visitors to the best exhibits, theaters and attrac- tions at the best times. Another unique feature is the museum's 500-seat performing arts hall, which uses 360-degree digital mapping to immerse guests in any given environment. The full technology package for the museum includes 384 monitors, 93 projec- tors and 12 theaters. www.museumofthebible.org Courtesy Museum of the American Revolution A King George statue at the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia

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