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Without the benefit of photography, the Revolutionary War can be difficult to envision. But what did the war actually look like? The Museum's special exhibition, Liberty: Don Troiani’s Paintings of the Revolutionary War, immersed visitors in the dramatic and research-based works of this nationally renowned historical artist to bring the compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events of the American Revolution to life.

Troiani has dedicated much of his artistic career to transforming the modern understanding of what the Revolutionary War truly looked like. Using a masterful combination of “artistry and accuracy” (New York Times), Troiani’s paintings, which are routinely used by the National Park Service and the Smithsonian Institution to help tell stories of past people and events, demonstrate his extraordinary combination of historical research, technical skill, and artistic drama.

It is my hope that my paintings help people today grasp the significance of the Revolutionary struggles of the people who lived 250 years ago, whose brave actions continue to shape our lives.
Don Troiani

The first major exhibition of Troiani’s original artwork, Liberty plunged visitors into some of the most pivotal events of America’s fight for independence and revealed Troiani’s research-based artistic process. This special exhibition brought together for the first time in public more than 40 of Troiani’s original Revolutionary War paintings and paired them with dozens of artifacts from his personal collection as well as the Museum and other lenders.

Depicting Diverse Revolutionaries Through Art & Drama

The exhibit unveiled one of Troiani’s latest works, "Brave Men as Ever Fought," a painting of the young African American sailor and Philadelphian James Forten witnessing Black and Native American troops in the ranks of the Continental Army as they march past Independence Hall on their way to Yorktown, Virginia. The painting was commissioned in 2019 by the Museum with funding provided by the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail of the National Park Service. 

A first-person theatrical performance about Forten’s life, written by local playwright Marissa Kennedy and performed by actor Nathan Alford-Tate, accompanied the exhibit to engage school groups and Museum guests.

Additional Education & Special Offerings

  • Audio Tour: A free audio tour (with transcriptions) was available for use on mobile devices or on sanitized hand-held audio devices available for rental.
  • Virtual Tour: Liberty is available to virtual visitors from around the world through a robust online experience of 360-degree high-resolution panoramic images and much more, which will remain permanently available.
  • Teacher Resources: Virtual distance learning programs and teacher professional development opportunities focusing on the exhibit were available throughout the exhibit. The full teacher resource guide is available in conjunction with the virtual tour.
  • Accessibility: The exhibition included raised tactile images of three of Don Troiani’s paintings for use by guests with visual impairments, created and donated by Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired.
  • Family Guide: Families could explore the exhibit using a printed Family Guide full of games and activities.
  • Guided Tours: Thirty-minute guided tours were available for private bookings.
  • Museum Shop: Special merchandise was offered in-store and online related to Liberty and Don Troiani's artwork, including small and large prints, miniature figurines, note card sets, and more.
Liberty Exhibit Lockup Final

Exhibition Book: Liberty: Don Troiani's Paintings of the Revolutionary War

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Don Troiani's Victory or Death, Advance on Trenton 1776
Victory or Death, Advance on Trenton (Courtesy of Don Troiani) 

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Dr. R. Scott Stephenson with artist Don Troiani at the Liberty Exhibit Opening
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