Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum review

Perhaps the most iconic structure of Gettysburg is that of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, the cupola of which is part of the American mythos as the place from which John Buford sized up his situation on the afternoon prior to the Battle of Gettysburg.  It is a beautiful building and has only recently, and just in time for the sesquicentennial, opened to the public as a museum interpreting the building's role in the battle, the aftermath, emancipation, and spiritual life during the Civil War era.  It does an exceptional job of telling those stories

Save for the clutter of the parking lot the building appears much as it did during the battle.

In contrast to the structure the signage is modern though effective.

Upon entering the building, one pays admission (more later), gets oriented by very pleasant visitor use assistants, and takes the elevator to the fourth floor where the visit begins.

The former common areas of this building provide open space, visitor seating, and well-done interpretive videos.

The common area of each floor branches off into separate galleries tied together by the central hallway.

The fourth floor concerns itself with the battle, and that is examined through a modest, though very fine, collection of artifacts as well as effective murals throughout the museum.

Admission to the museum is $9.00 Which seems steep considering that the Gettysburg Foundation/National Park admission for the visitor centere museum is$12.50 which includes the museum, the film, and the cyclorama.

If you wish to climb the steps to the cupola however...

It will cost you a whopping twenty dollars extra!

Neither my trick knee or pocket book was up to the challenge.

A visitor looking off into the distance for that double saw-buck that just sailed away.


The third floor of the Museum interprets the Seminary building as a Civil War hospital, serving the wounded immediately after the battle, and this it does particularly well.

The vignettes are quite compelling with excellent recorded interpretation provided 
at the push of a button.

The mannequins are particularly convincing and well-sculpted

In a somewhat misguided effort to, I assume, spare children the historical images of the battlefield dead, these hopper-like enclosures surround the monitors displaying period photographs of the dead and maimed, however...

for people in wheelchairs, or the more diminutive visitor (note tip-toes) the experience was significantly diminished or even unavailable.

And oddly, children are not shielded from graphic vignettes of mangled limbs being sawed off.  That must have been an interesting exhibit planning meeting.

The level of detail in the vignettes is superb...

right down to the details of bloody fingerprints on the door jamb.

On the second floor are interpretive moments focusing on faith and social justice...

including the role of African-Americans in the war...

as well as significant religious movements of the era.

Both are done particularly well.

The "hands on" experiences include "lift the rifle" and "lift the pack", or in this instance,
 lift the hat.

There's also lift the bucket of clear resin, which seems considerably heavier than a bucket of water.  As "hands on" experiences these left much to be desired.

One of the coolest things about making this venerable old building accessible to the public is to be able to soak in some of the details of the building including...


newel posts,

hearth grates,

and an elegant entryway;  all very beautiful.

There was one interactive which I found particularly satisfying and meaningful, it allowed visitors, using provided pencils and post-it notes, to articulate their hopes for a more perfect Union.

World peace and same-sex marriage were the dominant themes...

with equally worthy wishes as well.

As far as visitor amenities there is an elevator, spacious and clean bathrooms, and, as all modern museums do, the last stop is...

the gift shop.

I think this museum is a new, and very well done, addition to the overall experience for the Gettysburg visitor.  I enthusiastically recommend it for your next trip to the Keystone state.

From just north of Boonsboro,


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Antietam in 54mm.

I'm sharing this post from my toy soldier blog here:

 I found myself with a little time on my hands, it being too hot to work outside, so I decided to turn my attention to finishing up the fences on my 54mm road.

The post-and-rail fence is constructed just as the actual ones are with wooden uprights, holes augered through them, and the ends of the rails resting in those holes.

Scraps of poplar, pine, and mahogany went into the construction of the fences.

This post-and-rail construction is typical of the turnpike fences of this region during the Civil War.

Here's one a portion of fence on the historic Hagerstown Pike which passes through 
Antietam National Battlefield...

and here's its little brother.

The  Mumma farm lane as it appears today...


and as it appeared...

on September 17, 1862.

Good fences make good neighbors, so say the grouchy neighbors anyway.

Soldier on!


Monday, July 08, 2013

Gettysburg 150 photo album (the final installment)

Here are some miscellaneous photos that didn't make it in to previous posts.  I guess I want to stretch out that Gettysburg high a little longer.

Ranger Jared Frederick assists a visitor on the first morning.

Santa's Confederate brother?

Ranger John Hoptak leads the way!

Buford and a far-to-jolly (considering his fate) Reynolds.  

Attentive Confederate reenactors.

Camp life.

Park Service employee Clayton Barker (left) in rebel ensemble.

Ranger Caitlin Kostic keeps visitors spellbound;

like  these two.

Union reenactors about to advance.

A snoozing zouave.

Zouave ready for action.

Second Corps reenactor in camp.

Grand Rapids Michigan remembers the Peach Orchard.

A campaigner on the "munch".

Ranger Dan Welch amid a sea of hikers.

Dixie chic.

A young actor in an evening performance of "Voices of the Civil War".

A very hot day for wool!

I remember the feeling.

Ranger Dan Vermilya leads the charge.

And that's that