More than a century after the dream began to take shape in the mind of a Norristown Episcopal minister, the Museum of the American Revolution will at last open its doors Wednesday in a new redbrick building in the heart of Philadelphia's historic district at Third and Chestnut Streets.
The museum makes use of the Rev. W. Herbert Burk's remarkable collection of artifacts, including Gen. George Washington's field tent (acquired by Burk in 1909), the general's battle flag, and hundreds of other relics and artworks to tell the wrenching narrative of the Revolutionary War. All is augmented by the latest in digital technology, videos, immersive environments, and even lifecast dioramas – whiz-bang presentations that Burk, who died in 1933, could not even imagine.
Opening-day events commence at 8 a.m. in Washington Square with an interfaith prayer ceremony and wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolutionary War. After this, a number of state, local, and federal officials will deliver remarks at Independence Hall, and students from St. Mary's Interparochial School will form a "living flag" of Washington's battle flag.
At 10:30 a.m., the ticketed ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin on the museum's plaza. (Only very heavy rain will move it indoors.)
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, Gov. Wolf, Mayor Kenney, and political commentator Cokie Roberts will deliver remarks.
Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter; Harvard University professor Vincent Brown; and the museum's chair, Gen. John P. Jumper, are among those who will speak, along with Col. John E. Bircher III, representing the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
The Philadelphia Boys Choir and a brass quintet from the Curtis Institute of Music will perform. Sydney James Harcourt, from the original cast of Hamilton, joined by students from the High School of the Creative and Performing Arts, will perform songs from the Broadway smash.
All events will be streamed live on the museum's website, www.amrevmuseum.org/livestream.
Images tagged #HowRevolutionary on Twitter and Instagram on opening day and weekend will also be pulled into a mosaic for display in the lobby for the next year.
For those unable to acquire ticketed seats to the ribbon-cutting on the museum's plaza, there will be three large media screens to facilitate viewing from Independence Park across Third Street, and from Chestnut Street.