By Herb Sparrow
Courtesy Boston Tea Party Museum
Although Missouri may not be the first state that comes to mind when the Civil War is mentioned, the Show Me State had its share of action, and the Missouri Civil War Museum, which will open later this year, will focus on the state’s role in the war.
“We don’t focus on the national scene,” said Gary Stevens, director of marketing and public relations for the museum. “It’s about Missouri’s story; it’s an amazing story. The state of Missouri had the third most battles and skirmishes after Virginia and Tennessee.
“We didn’t necessarily have big battles, but we had constant fighting. Something was happening somewhere in the state nearly every day.”
The museum is one of several new or expanded museums this year that will provide insights into America’s wars, from looks at the events that helped spark the American Revolution to World War II, through the use of a combination of the latest technologies, living-history interpreters and artifacts.
Boston Tea Party Museum
On June 25, more than a decade after fire sparked by lightning destroyed the first museum, the Boston Tea Party Museum will open near the spot in Boston Harbor where the famous act of protest that helped lead to the American Revolution took place.
In addition to a larger building, the museum will also feature authentic replicas of the three ships that were boarded by American patriots dressed like Mohawk Indians who dumped crates of tea into the harbor to protest British economic policies toward the American Colonies.
The museum will use the latest technology to immerse visitors in the story of the Revolution, including giving everyone the identity of an actual 18th-century patriot.
There will be first-person interpreters and interactive areas where virtual versions of King George III and Sam Adams will debate the issues of the day. On the ships, which are being re-created in painstaking detail, visitors will see and hear an animatronic ship’s captain writing in his log and the ships’ crews sleeping in their hammocks.
“We’re using a lot of state-of-the art technology so people won’t know if they’re seeing real people or illusions,’’ said Shawn Ford, vice president and executive director of Historic Tours of America, which will operate the museum.
Hands-on activities will include the opportunity to dump a crate of tea into the harbor. An artifact that won’t be dumped again is one of the original tea crates that was tossed into the water. It is one of only two known to exist.
The museum tour ends in a re-created tavern and tearoom, where visitors will be able to drink teas similar to those dumped into the harbor.
“We hope people will go away not only with a fun experience, but will have gained a lot of knowledge,” said Sheila Green, a spokesperson for the museum.
— www.bostonteapartyship.com —
U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
National World War II Museum
The next phase in the ongoing $300 million expansion of the National World War II Museum, the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, which is scheduled to open in November, will be home to the museum’s largest artifacts.
“This is our next major building,” said Andy Myer, communications director for the museum.
The huge structure will showcase an array of airplanes, artillery, tanks and other equipment, including a Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress,” an SBD Dauntless, a B-25 fuselage and a TBM Avenger.
Elevated catwalks will provide dramatic views of the aircraft, many of which will be suspended from the ceiling, while light-emitting-diode screens will have historical films about the craft.
Another area of the pavilion, Unrestricted Warfare, will have an immersive and interactive submarine experience where visitors can perform battle actions against the Japanese navy.
The Services Gallery will feature artifacts, oral histories and other interactive exhibits that will tell about the roles played by the various branches of the armed services during World War II. The $3 million Restoration Pavilion, whose glass exterior walls give the public a view of the museum’s restoration and preservation efforts on World War II artifacts, opened last May.
Among the items worked on in the pavilion are a Higgins Industries PT boat that was built in New Orleans, a Sherman tank, a German Opal staff car and a Dodge ambulance.
The expansion, scheduled to be completed in 2015, will quadruple the size of the original museum. The Solomon Victory Theater, the Stage Door Canteen entertainment venue and the American sector restaurant opened in November 2009.
Future pavilions will be the Campaigns Pavilion and the Liberation Pavilion.
— www.nationalww2museum.org —