From the early stirrings of colonial unrest in the 1760s to the decisive Patriot victory at the siege of Yorktown in 1781, the stories told throughout the Museum of the American Revolution offer a dynamic look at the nation's founding era. Using our rich collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, letters, diaries, and works of art, alongside engaging films, digital interactives, immersive galleries, and recreated historical scenes, the events, people, and ideals of the American Revolution are brought to life.
Lenfest Myer Theater – Revolution
Begin your visit in the Lenfest Myer Theater, located on the first floor, with our orientation film, Revolution. This sweeping film explores the origins, experiences, and ongoing legacy of the American Revolution–setting the stage for your exploration of our core exhibition.
This 15-minute film is shown throughout the day. The last showing is at 3:00 p.m. daily.
Head up our grand staircase to enter our core exhibition that explores the origins of the American Revolution, the fight for independence, and the on-going legacies of the Revolution.
The core exhibition is guided by four questions:
How did people become Revolutionaries?
How did the Revolution survive its darkest hour?
How Revolutionary was the war?
What kind of nation did the Revolution create?
Throughout the exhibit, you are invited to investigate the answers to these questions–exploring the story of the American Revolution like never before.
The Road to Independence
How did people become Revolutionaries? The rumblings of the American Revolution began more than a decade before the “shot heard ‘round the world” ignited America’s War for Independence. Discover through seven galleries how the American Colonists–most of them content and even proud British subjects–became Revolutionaries as the roots of rebellion took hold. See how conflict over Native American lands and western settlement created the first rumblings of American discontent.
As unrest grew, the term “American Liberties” began appearing in newspapers and other printings around the colonies. Dive into the tumult imposed by the Stamp Act, Townsend Duties, and Intolerable Acts through interactives that introduce the roles that printing and propaganda played in the Revolution. Watch Congress issue the transformative Declaration of Independence—one of the most important documents ever written—on July 4. In an immersive theater view the unfolding debate and decision-making as delegates to the Continental Congress passionately debate the break from England and the King.
Boston’s Liberty Tree
In one of the Museum’s captivating immersive environments, stand beneath the branches and lanterns of a life-size reproduction of the Boston Liberty Tree, a large elm tree where the first stirrings of revolt were discussed and debated. Engage with a gallery educator in the gallery, who will share stories and offer more information about the rise of "American Liberties."
The Darkest Hour
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 Commander-in-Chief 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.
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 of the War 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.
The Battlefield Theater will put you on the front lines of the American Army as you are confronted by an all-out British infantry charge during the Battle of Brandywine. Before you enter, staff will teach you how to stand in ranks and move in formation as you prepare to experience the sights and sounds of the Revolutionary War.
A Revolutionary War
How Revolutionary was the war? Explore the final years of the War for Independence from the multiplicity of perspectives of the people who lived through it. As both sides grew frustrated with the unexpectedly long conflict, the struggle continued to tear the social fabric of American communities apart, particularly in the South. The war had become a civil war and the prolonged pressures drove Americans to face persistent questions about their ideals of liberty.
Between December 1778 and May 1780, British forces captured Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, and captured the majority of the Continental Army’s Southern units. At the Battle of Camden in August 1780, British troops defeated most of the remaining patriot army in the South. Encounter the military and social dynamics of the Southern war, particularly at the Battle of Cowpens–a pivotal American victory and decisive turning point in the Southern campaign. Through an immersive theater experience, watch as the final years of the War unfold from Yorktown in 1781 to the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
Experience the Revolutionary War at sea by climbing aboard a life-size replica privateer ship. Guests will hear exciting true stories of individuals who served as privateers and participate in hands-on activities that were done by sailors themselves.
A New Nation
What kind of nation did the Revolution create? With the hard-fought establishment of the United States of America, 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. As you conclude your journey, watch as the new nation–born of the War for Independence– begins its own.
Learn how the nation emerged from war to create a republican society that ensured that political authority came from the people in these last two galleries. From the critical period following the war to the Peace of Paris to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, follow the debates and gain new perspectives on the challenges that the young nation faced at the end of the eighteenth century.
The Revolution’s Veterans
Come face-to-face with America’s first “greatest generation” through their photographs. Many veterans suffered after the war, as the new nation neglected their war heroes. The last known Revolutionary War veterans died shortly after the Civil War, still many had their photograph taken.
Washington's War Tent
Conclude your exploration of the Museum and the story of the American Revolution in this moving and immersive film. Follow General George Washington's Headquarters Tent's remarkable journey from the Revolutionary War to the present.
This 12-minute feature plays on the hour everyday, with a final showing fifteen minutes before the Museum closes.