By Elena Bras, Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution hosted “History After Hours: Power of the Press” on Tuesday, May 15, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
This event is part of the Museum of the American Revolution’s monthly History After Hours series, which features extended evening hours until 8 p.m., special themed programs, happy hour food and drink specials in Cross Keys Café from 5 – 7 p.m., and full access to the exhibits. The Museum highlighted the theme of press and printing and its impact during the American Revolution in several ways.
Ben Bartgis, a book historian and bookbinder demonstrated the process of printed sheets becoming pamphlets and books. Visitors could make their own pamphlet, featuring poetry by Phillis Wheatley or a mini booklet of The American Crisis by Thomas Paine.
Stamps featuring historical letters and symbols were also available as printing tools for guests as they made their own political pamphlet or broadside. Also offered in the lobby was a re-created Liberty Tree. Guests could write down answers in response to the prompt “How will they carry on the Revolution?” and add them to the life-size tree vinyl placed on one of the lobby walls. The Museum café also offered special happy hour-priced food and drinks, with a signature cocktail made for the event. Guests could enjoy these in either the café or in the lobby with the activities.
Museum Registrar Michelle Moskal gave a tour during the event that examined the challenges of displaying paper collection items. Some of the objects featured included a signed book of poems by the first published female African American poet, Phillis Wheatley. In the featured gallery, a costumed educator stood under the replica of the Boston Liberty Tree as they told stories of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty who would post broadsides to revolt against the British tyranny. In the same gallery, the touch-screen interactive “Posters of Protest” was also called out. Guests could interact with original broadsides on the digital platform by expanding on original text and translate era-specific language.
Finally, guests and staff were invited to donate a book to Tree House Books, a Giving Library and Literacy Center in North Philadelphia. The organization provides free books to the community as well as programs that increase literacy skills to promote a lifelong love of reading and writing in children. At each History After Hours event, the Museum partners with a specific organization that ties to the theme of the night.