The enduring importance of the American Revolution is demonstrated by the rich array of materials from the Revolution on display in changing exhibitions at museums, libraries and other cultural institutions across the country. Seek them out.
Smithsonian National Museum of American History – Washington, D.C.
June 26, 2018 – July 9, 2019
The American Revolution: A World War examines the story of the nation’s founding from a global perspective, beginning with the roots of the Revolution in the Seven Years’ War, when a complex interplay of global interests and actions existed between Britain, France, Spain and Holland. The exhibition centers on the Siege of Yorktown, showing how the American victory there depended on support from allied nations. The final section of the show explores how relations between the United States and European nations evolved between the Revolution and 1824, when the marquis de Lafayette made a triumphal return to the United States to see how democracy was flourishing in the new country.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Va.
Ongoing through June 21, 2019
During the British invasion of Virginia in 1781, Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe led the Queen’s Rangers, a light cavalry unit of Americans loyal to the Crown, in engagements near Williamsburg and Yorktown. This exhibition explores Simcoe’s activities in the state through rare materials from the library’s collections, including manuscript maps of the battles, the marquis de Lafayette’s account of the action at Spencer’s Ordinary, watercolor drawings of soldiers in the Queen’s Rangers, and other documents and artifacts.
Fort Pitt Museum – Pittsburgh, Pa.
Ongoing since July 1, 2017
Few objects from colonial America had such a personal connection to their owners as the powder horns used by soldiers, settlers and American Indians to store the gunpowder necessary for their survival. The smooth surface of the horn was also an ideal place for owners and artists to leave their mark, etching names, dates, maps and war records, as well as purely whimsical figures, into the objects. The carved powder horns in this exhibition illuminate the landscapes, wars and politics of early America and particularly its frontier residents.
American Philosophical Society – Philadelphia, Pa.
April 12 – December 29, 2019
Tracing the creation and use of maps from the mid-18th century through 1816, this exhibition investigates the way maps, as both artworks and practical tools, had political and social meaning. It features historical maps, surveying instruments, books, manuscripts and other objects to show how maps were used to create and extend the physical, political and ideological boundaries of the new nation and how different people used maps as political and ideological tools to express multiple, sometimes competing, visions of what the new United States would be. Highlights of the exhibition include a 1757 copy of the John Mitchell map of the British empire in North America, manuscript maps from the American Revolution and George Washington’s copy of the 1792 map of Washington, D.C.
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Va.
April 20, 2019 – January 2, 2023
The arms used by the combatants on all sides of the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars were an international jumble of firearms and bladed weapons. These arms take center stage in this exhibition, which features approximately seventy muskets, carbines and rifles, bayonets, pistols and swords used by loyalists, American patriots, Hessians and British “red coats” in battles on land and at sea. “To Arm Against an Enemy” explores the wide variety of weapons used during the Revolution and the progression of military technology that was vital to securing American independence.