Sunday, April 20, 2008

Out with the old...

...and in with the new! I went last Weds., and my thoughts are mixed. It is a very nice, very well-done Civil War Museum. The layout makes sense, the displays are presented in a logical and concise way, and it looks good.

That said, it is not what you think of when you hear the words, "Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor's Center". That is not even close to what this new creation comes off as being.


Very little of it is actually devoted to Gettysburg! If I wanted to go to a Civil War Museum, I would have gone an hour north to Harrisburg. It has one of the best in the country!

But, I did not. I wanted to see Gettysburg!

This museum starts of with an intro. to the causes of the war, a big presentation on slavery, the early battles, then Gettysburg, and then the remaining campaigns (with very little mention of the Western or Trans-Miss Theatres). Then, there is a brief bit on the aftermath, and the creation of the park. My favorite exhibit was the EXIT sign, which meant that I no longer had to take in the forced-doses (by the shovels-ful) of political correctness that I was being made to digest!!

The potential was there They could have done so much more. How about the events leading up to Gettysburg? How about an exhibit on "Why Gettysburg?", etc. More on the battle itself, and more on the effects of the battle, both during and afterward, on the town itself? How many wounded? How did they treat them? Where did they send them? How about the pre-battle fighting in Westminster, Hanover, York, Carlisle, and Hunterstown? Why no mention of Lee's retreat with his 17-mile-long wagon train of wounded and even some of the fighting along the way? Also, (and this will be the last one) if you are showing the general Civil War, what happened at almost the same time in Vicksburg?

I think this thing was given to us under false pretenses! When first proposed, we were told that it was necessary to have larger exhibit space, because the park owned significantly more relics and artifacts than it could display. This from the Gettysburg NMP website itself on the initial plan,

"The requirement of a new building dates back any years when the growth of the museum collection, based on the famous George D. Rosensteel Collection, was beyond the scope of the current visitor's center. The need for an updated building to house the park's extensive archival and museum collections was not the only predicament. Outdated visitor facilities, exhibit space..."

Yet, the new museum presents significantly fewer pieces of the collection. Why?

Anyone besides me see something wrong here?... We won't get into the disgraces of the so-called 'bookstore'. That will come later.

I don't know, for the average 'Joe or Jane public' tourist, this thing might be ok, but if you know more than who fought, what the battle meant, when it was, and how it ended, you will be more than a bit disappointed!
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