Philadelphia is the premier destination for exploring America’s founding, as the city continues to expand its centers for historical education and appreciation. In addition to the National Constitution Center, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell, visitors to the city can now enjoy the Museum of the American Revolution (M*AR) in the heart of historic Philadelphia. The museum opened in April, and is already becoming a go-to cultural touchstone..

Guests can become part of the mob that pulls down a statue of King George the III, face the enemy of the frontline, and consider the conflict between loyalty and independence. The dramatic story of America’s founding come to life at M*AR, and is worth a visit.

THE EXPERIENCE

The M*AR experience is an interactive and immersive examination of the events, people, and ideals of the struggling founding of the United States. Original artifacts, galleries, theaters, and historical recreations weave a chronological journey from the 1760s through the establishment of the American republic.

The personal stories of a diverse range of individuals are on display, including those of women, native people, and free and enslaved individuals of African descent. And visitors can get engaged as well, with the chance to mix-and-match pieces of soldier uniforms, stand-in for George Washington in a reproduction of the “Rising Sun,” and take early American stitching lesson.

THE ARTIFACTS

An impressive collection of Revolutionary-era artifacts sets the M*AR apart from any other experience in Philadelphia. Several thousand weapons, art pieces, manuscripts, and personal items. The collection is more than a century in the making, and over 400 artifacts are currently on the display in the Museum.

It’s hard to pick favorites from such a rich and remarkable  set, but there are a few items in particular that stand out.

George Washington’s Tent – The original tent that George Washington used as his command center due the Revolutionary War

English holster pistols – Pistols carrier through the Revolutionary War by German-American Brigadier General Peter Muhlenberg

Phillis Wheatley poetry volume – A signed 1772 volume of “Poems on Various Subjects” by Phillis Wheatley, America’s first published black female poet

“The March to Valley Forge – The iconic 1883 painting by William B.T. Trego

Powder Horn – The powder horn of William Waller, which bears several popular slogans of the time, such as “Liberty or Death” and “Kill or be Killed”

There’s so much more to see, like British military muskets and the first newspaper printing of the Declaration of Independence. And each gallery provides living witness to the stories and events of the period.

THE BUILDING

The Museum is located at Third and Chestnut Streets and encompases 118,000 square feet. Permanent and temporary exhibit galleries, theaters, education spaces, collection storage, a café, and a retail store offer comprehensive amenities for visitors. The state-of-the-art facility was designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, and provides a style that reflects the rich history of the neighborhood.

On the first floor, visitors can check out a skylit central interior court with an elliptical staircase that leads to the second floor exhibition galleries. On the second floor, atop the sweeping Grand Staircase, 18,000 square feet of galleries and 100-seat theater dedicated to George Washington’s War Tent are waiting to be explored.