To Mark 250th Anniversary of Struggle for Independence, Exhibit from American Battlefield Trust & Daughters of the American Revolution Will Crisscross Country
(Washington, D.C.) — From an award-winning website to an in-demand pop-up exhibition, the American Revolution Experience, a collaborative project of the American Battlefield Trust and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), is beginning a new phase in its quest to connect modern audiences with the fascinating story of our nation’s origin. The American Revolution Experience will travel to scores of libraries, historical societies and museums through the spring of 2025, introducing visitors to a cast of historical characters with diverse experiences throughout the conflict and the places they visited on their journey.
The exhibit deepens a natural affinity between two organizations whose missions center on tangible connections to the revolutionary era, via the landscapes on which the conflict was decided and familial ties to the Patriots who fought for liberty. It draws from documents and objects in DAR’s collection, as well as the Trust’s industry leading digital interpretation resources. The National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program provided $200,000 in matching funds in the inaugural round of its Battlefield Interpretation Grants to create the traveling exhibit, which has been met dollar for dollar by DAR and further supported by individual Trust donors.
“Independence may have been declared in Philadelphia by the Declaration’s 56 signers, but it was hard-won on the battlefields we protect by the thousands of Patriot soldiers from whom today’s Daughters trace descent,” said Trust President David Duncan. “Together, our organizations bear witness to the fact that we are not so far removed from those impactful events, that there are meaningful ways to bridge those 250 years.”
A longer-term mounting of the exhibit will remain at DAR’s national headquarters in Washington, with the first pop-up iterations opening this January at venues in New York, Ohio and Texas. Individual DAR chapters across the nation have partnered with institutions in their communities to offer venues for the exhibit, booking its current complement of copies to capacity; further inquiries will be placed on a waitlist. The hosting request form and the touring calendar will be available at www.battlefields.org/ontour.
The American Revolution Experience invites visitors to consider the choice faced by members of the revolutionary generation as tensions mounted in the 1770s: Would these ordinary citizens risk their lives and livelihoods in pursuit of liberty? Or would they remain loyal subjects of the British crown, coming into conflict with neighbors and family? The exhibit surfaces diverse viewpoints and experiences, touching on the journeys — both literal and figurative — of Patriots and Loyalists, men and women, Black and Native populations and even international allies. Rather than focusing only on generals and famous statesmen, it introduces audiences to drummer boys, military mapmakers and other ordinary people who were impacted by global events.
“The American Revolution would not have happened without the decisions, sacrifices, and valor of ordinary people,” said DAR President General Pamela Rouse Wright. “DAR is honored to have collaborated with the American Battlefield Trust on this initiative to highlight some of our Patriots and their roles in the founding of this great country. We are thrilled for people in communities across the country to learn more about these individuals.”
The exhibits that will travel the country contain 12 panels highlighting thematic connections between profiled individual stories and three interactive kiosks that connect to the full digital biographies, provide documentary context on the Revolutionary War and offer information on how to visit the places tied to these individuals today. Both online and on-site, the American Revolution Experience features custom illustrations by South Carolina-based artist Dale Watson. In creating his unique art, Watson used historical descriptions, images, and other resources to make portraits for each figure highlighted on the site and for larger scenes to show events during the 18th century.
The project’s first iteration launched online in the summer of 2022 to rapid acclaim, receiving a Bronze Award in the Education, Art, & Culture division of the second annual Anthem Awards, an initiative of the Webby Awards celebrating purpose and mission-driven work. It was also a finalist in the “People’s Choice” category of the Webbys themselves.
About the Organizations
From a grassroots organization started by historians nearly 40 years ago, the American Battlefield Trust has grown into one of the most successful land preservation and education organizations in the nation. The Trust has protected more than 57,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War, representing more than 155 sites in 25 states from Massachusetts to New Mexico. Its 350,000 members and supporters believe in the power of place and the continued relevance of our shared history to modern American society. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism. Its members are descended from the Patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With nearly 190,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world’s largest and most active service organizations. Learn more at www.dar.org/