Mounted behind a thick piece of glass at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center is a new addition to the display case. Deep blue with a faded number one in the center, it is the swallow tail banner representing the 1st Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Used on the first day of battle to mark the position of Gen. John F. Reynolds, the flag now represents one of the many new additions to the museum. Over the next two weeks, 150 new artifacts will be brought into the museum as others are rotated out for conservation. This marks the first large-scale artifact rotation undertaken by the museum since its opening in 2008.
"We are very excited that we have the opportunity to do this," said Greg Goodell, museum services supervisor. "Now with our partnership we have more of an opportunity to do bigger and better things."
This partnership is between the National Park Service and the Gettysburg Foundation, an organization that seeks to preserve the history of Gettysburg. The two groups run the musuem together. "This is really part of an ongoing project of partnership and support," Gettysburg Foundation communications coordinator Brooke Diaz said.
The foundation donated $300,000 to update the exhibits. Due to a lack of funding, the Park Service's former museum was not able to undergo such large-scale rotations, a costly and time-consuming process.
"Our old museum was very static," Goodell said. "This one is much more dynamic. Over a long period of time we will be able to show a lot more." And the Park Service has a lot to show. Today only 10 percent of its collection is on display at the museum, so rotations are an excellent opportunity to showcase more of what the Park Service has to offer. This rotation also includes several items on loan from the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia. "We are getting a really nice collection with a lot of well-documented materials," Goodell said. "We will keep them here for five years while they raise funds for their new museum."
The new exhibits also will include an artifact from the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation in Virginia. A flag representing the 6th North Carolina that was carried during the Battle of Gettysburg is on loan from its former home in Stratford Hall, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. The flag replaces one flown used by the 2nd North Carolina that will be placed into the museum's climate-controlled storage facility. "Although we keep these artifacts in good conditions at the museum, they always need a rest," Diaz said. "As part of a regular maintenance routine we take them down for conservation."
This allows the Park Service to expose visitors to a larger collection while better maintaining the quality of the artifacts, an often difficult process. "What you see here is the result of a year of work," Goodell said. "The actual installation process is short compared to the preparation, from the selection of the artifacts, to preservation efforts, to even making new label copy."
Text and Image Source: Evening Sun