Join us throughout A Revolutionary Summer with exhibits, crafts, and activities for visitors of all ages. Plan Your Visit

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These are the times that try men's souls.
Thomas Paine, 1776

Core Question #2: How did the Revolution survive its darkest hour?  

America would soon learn that it was one thing to declare independence, and quite another to secure it. The Battle for New York during the fall of 1776 tested General George Washington and his Continental Army. Follow the American retreat from New York through the Battles of Long Island, White Plains, and Fort Washington, as 1776 came to a close and American troop numbers and morale began to dwindle. 

Walk across a floor-sized map of the campaign in New York, while looking at original witness objects from those battles. Many of these objects have never been displayed in a public museum before. Design your own soldier uniform with an interactive display, and learn about how soldiers displayed their loyalties and ideas of liberty by engraving mottos on their equipment, or by choosing a particular fashion of fighting clothes. 

Chart the action on an interactive map that highlights the encampments, advances, and encounters of the American army and the British and Hessian army at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. Examine their weapons and uniforms in a touchscreen interactive; and read narratives of their wartime experiences, like that of Joseph Plumb Martin during the New York Campaign or Private Johannes Reuber, a Hessian soldier taken prisoner at the Battle of Trenton. 

Arms of Independence The Weapons of War

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Enter this object theater and gaze upon an impressive wall display of world-class weapons used during the Revolutionary War and read about many citizen soldiers who carried this weaponry. Visitors can immerse themselves in a 360-degree, detailed view of the weapons and personal accoutrements on display, including muskets, swords, powder horns, cartridge boxes, and more. 

The Darkest Hour Highlights

Women and the War 

Live the Battle of Saratoga in New York through the eyes of a Hessian soldier's wife, who documented her harrowing wartime experience in her diary. Join Quaker schoolmistress Hannah Catherall and her fellow Quakers and glimpse Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed) in a way you never expected to — as a prison for American officers and barracks for British soldiers during the British occupation of Philadelphia in 1777. 

Oneida Indian National Gallery

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In a war that tore apart families, communities, and tribes, the Oneida Indian Nation made a momentous decision to break with the ancient Iroquois Confederacy and join the American cause. In the Oneida Nation Gallery, stand among life-size replicas of members of the Oneida Indian Nation — listen and become immersed in the intense debate. 

Battlefield Theater
In the panoramic Battlefield Theater, experience the fear and frenzy of being on the front line as you are confronted by an all-out British infantry charge at the Battle of Brandywine. The terror of war comes to life in this intense theater experience. 

Winter at Valley Forge 
After the British's triumphal seizure of Philadelphia, the Continental Army withdrew to Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78. Visitors will experience the pitiful conditions of the war-weary soldiers and learn about the common soldiers and families who endured the harsh winter at Valley Forge through a hands-on interactive that brings the complex workings of a war camp to life. 

Learn More

A visitor looks at a tableau scene depicting George Washington breaking up a fight among his troops in Harvard Yard.

The Road to Independence

Core Exhibition
How did people become Revolutionaries? Discover how the American colonists – most of them content and even proud British subjects – became Revolutionaries as the roots of rebellion took hold.
Explore Exhibit
A high up view of the War at Sea gallery in the Museum of the American Revolution featuring a sloop

A Revolutionary War

Core Exhibition
How Revolutionary was the war? Explore the final years of the Revolutionary War from the perspectives of the diverse people who lived through it.
Explore Exhibit
Guests with masks enjoy the images of Revolutionary War veterans.

A New Nation

Core Exhibition
What kind of nation did the Revolution create? The Revolutionaries succeeded in gaining independence, but then came the immense task of creating a nation founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Explore Exhibit