Delaware Day marks unveiling of American Revolution museum

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

— A decade in the making, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown was formally unveiled Thursday during its grand opening celebration.

"Our vision over the last 10 years has been to create a museum that tells a national story, and indeed welcomes a national audience," said Jamestown-Yorktown Foudnation executive director Phil Emerson.

Museum officials say the remodeled and refocused facility, formerly known as the Yorktown Victory Center, "presents a renewed perspective on the meaning and impact of the Revolution."

"We feel like the new museum will complement the great work of the National Park Service right here in Yorktown, but other Revolutionary War sites including Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello (and) Mount Vernon," Emerson said.

The celebrations are taking place over 13 days through Apr. 4, honoring each state in the order in which they ratified the Constitution. The museum's Dedication Day takes place Apr. 1, a day to honor Virginia and 41 years to the day that the Yorktown Victory Center was dedicated.

Thursday's ceremony and program commemorated Delaware's contribution to the Revolutionary War. Delaware state official and members of state heritage organizations took part in the ceremony, which featured welcoming remarks, a state flag presentation and an artillery salute.

Emerson said the museum has comprehensively told the story of Yorktown since 1976. That mission is broadened to include all facets of the American Revolution.

"It was in that time period that through new galleries and strengthened living history areas, we could broaden that story," Emerson said. "We also had many visitors that enjoyed the caliber of programming we offered at Jamestown Settlement and so people when they came to this site also, they were striving for other experiences, and we think we've now done that."

Peter Armstrong, senior director of museum operations and education for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, took time during his opening remarks to honor the late-Nick and Mary Mathews, who donated 23 acres along the York River to the then-Yorktown Victory Center in 1972 and later, Mary Mathews bequeathed nearly the entire Mathews estate to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

Armstrong said the museum "would serve to remind us that the ideas of those Founding Fathers and mothers who fought for ideas that resonate with us even today."

The 80,000-square-foot, $50 million museum includes a 22,000-square-foot permanent exhibition gallery, a 5,000-square-foot special exhibition gallery, an education center and outdoor living history areas to include a Continental Army encampment and a Revolution-era farm.

"We want to lift up Virginia's brand as a destination for the American Revolution," Emerson said, "and we're confident that our programs — both inside and outside — will do a stellar job of making people understanding that history, make it engaging and enjoyable." 

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

Want to go?

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is at 200 Water St. and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The museum stays open until 6 p.m. from June 15 through Aug. 15. Grand opening celebrations will take place from March 23 through April 4 to honor the original 13 states.

The museum will be formally dedicated April 1, with access to the Dedication Day ceremony open to the public on a space-available basis. Gov. Terry McAuliffe will dedicate the museum to the late Nick and Mary Mathews, who donated the land on which the museum was built and benefactors to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

Admission is $12 for adults, $7 ages 6-12. Value-priced combination ticket with Jamestown Settlement: $23 for adults, $12 ages 6-12. Admission is free to residents of York and James City counties, and City of Williamsburg residents, including College of William and Mary students, with proof of residency. Parking is free.

Public parking to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will be limited on April 1, and visitors should park along Yorktown Trolley stops in Historic Yorktown and take the Yorktown Trolley to the museum.

For more information on the grand opening and Dedication Day, visit historyisfun.org/grandopening/.

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