Monday, January 22, 2018

A Visit to the Seminary Ridge Museum

On a trip to Pennsylvania Saturday, I made a brief side excursion to Gettysburg. Driving up Highway 15 (Emmitsburg Road) is always a thrill, no matter what time of year it is. The goal of this particular visit was to visit the relatively new Seminary Ridge Museum (shown above), which opened in 2013 and is housed in the Lutheran Seminary. 

Entering the building on the ground floor, I was helped by friendly staff, who helped orient me to the best way to experience the museum and provided me with a gallery map. The building has four floors. It was suggested to start on the top floor and work my way down. The second, third, and fourth floors each have six rooms and their doors are numbered to help guests move from room to room to get the most cohesive experience.

The fourth floor, "Gettysburg, July 1, 1863," covers the fighting on the first day of battle from morning to nightfall. On each of the floors an orientation video gives viewers high-quality productions. Excellent maps, a host of artifacts, and personal stories also offer a variety of ways to learn.

"Caring for the Wounded" is the theme of the third floor. The Lutheran Seminary served as a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers on July 1-3 and beyond. The rooms on this floor cover all of the following topics: the wounded, the surgeons, the nurses, the survivors and they dying and the dead. The life-like mannequins are well done (not creepy) and provide an added dimension to the learning experience.

The second floor, "Faith and Freedom in America," explores social history aspects of students who learned at the seminary, professors who taught, citizens of Adams County, African Americans, and the issues these people and other Americans faced with the coming of the Civil War.

The first floor, "Voices of History," offers a changing exhibit room, a museum shop, restrooms, and, like the others floor, an orientation video. The temporary exhibit room currently has some amazing local history artifacts including a "Democratic Drum" from the election of 1856. 

In addition to touring at one's own pace, the museum offers the opportunity a couple times per day to tour the cupola of the building to see the surrounding Gettysburg landscape from the same perspective as some Union troops did the morning of July 1, 1863. However, there is an additional charge for the cupola tour.

I was very impressed with the quality of the exhibits, the coverage of historical topics, and the use of intriguing artifacts to tell the story of the first day of Gettysburg and much more. I highly recommend a visit if you get to Gettysburg. Its proximity to other National Park Service July 1, 1863 stops makes it a true must see.

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