On August 5th, 2017, thousands of visitors to the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center enjoyed free educational programs thanks to the generosity of Ford Motor Company Fund. The event was a collaboration of Ford, Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park.
The public was invited to come out to the museum and visitor’s center to enjoy a fun-filled day that was packed with free activities that the entire family could enjoy. There was free admission to the Cyclorama, Film and Museum, along with other special activities.
We were invited to attend Ford Family Day and arrived at 10:00 a.m., so that we could experience as many activities that we could. We started out by spending some time in the Museum exploring all of their Civil War and Gettysburg exhibits. If you’ve never visited the museum before, it’s a must-see if you’re interested in learning more about the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg.
It’s a 12-gallery museum and it starts off talking about slavery and how all of this is leading up to the start of the Civil War. In this section, I suggest you sit down and watch the approximately 8-10 minute video that is offered. It gives you a good look at slavery and how terrible it was for those who were enslaved. An eye-opening for sure!
We’re huge fans of President Lincoln (Hubby considers Abe to be the BEST president ever), so we spent a lot of time learning about the election and presidency of President Lincoln. From what we learned during our visit, he was one of the most beloved republican presidents in history.
From there we moved on to all of the Civil War and Battle of Gettysburg exhibits. We saw a lot of the Civil War era guns, swords, cannons, uniforms, etc. They have a really cool exhibit that gives you a realistic look at “camp life” for the soldier. You’ll learn all about the 3-day battle for Gettysburg and the importance that this battle played.
There are several places throughout the museum where you can sit down in a mini theater and watch short videos/movies that relate to that part of the museum and exhibits. If you’re really interested in learning as much as you can about this, I highly recommend that you sit down and spend the time watching them. Yes, I know…a lot of people pass them by, but I feel they’re important to watch.
In total, from start to finish…we spent a good 90 minutes exploring the museum, watching the mini videos and really checking out each of the exhibits in great length. There is a LOT to learn! The next time around, I plan on bringing a mini-notebook along with me, so that I can jot down some notes along the way.
We watched the feature film “A New Birth of Freedom” narrated by actor Morgan Freeman, on a previous visit to the museum a few months ago and skipped it this time around. The lines were long and we wanted to give visitors who’ve never seen it before, the chance to watch it. It’s shown in a comfortable small theater and is definitely something every visitor should see.
Back in January of 2017 we visited the on-site Cyclorama which depicts the world-famous “Battle of Gettysburg” painting in the round. The Cyclorama is one of the coolest things at the museum! It’s upstairs and they dim the lights. While you’re standing on the Cyclorama deck, you’ll hear the sounds of the 3-day Battle of Gettysburg and learn more about it. The light show that accompanies it is really cool to see. In my honest opinion, the Cyclorama is something that the entire family will enjoy. You can learn more about the Cyclorama by visiting my previous feature on that —- HERE.
There were family activity areas set up in the museum where children could try on “pint-size” Civil War era clothing and take selfies! They could dress up like a Union or Confederate Soldier, farmer, shopkeeper, doctor, nurse or as President and Mrs. Lincoln. We saw children of different ages getting dressed up and having their pictures taken. Cute!!!
In another area they had Summer Reading Adventures where children could listen to a book being read. They had the opportunity to join a park ranger to explore the books and related activities and meet special guests from the past.
One of the activities that I was hoping to see, but had missed was the Army Interactive Sessions where you could take your oath of allegiance, see and feel the equipment of a Civil War soldier, participate in a marching drill, and send out scouts to find & fight the enemy. There was a lot to see and do…that I just missed it!
To everyone’s delight…you could get a free scoop of ice cream (made locally by Mr. G’s Ice Cream) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. I have to admit, the ice cream was delicious! I’ll be seeking out Mr. G’s Ice Cream every time we pay a visit to Gettysburg!
During the event you could enjoy live music from the Civil War period from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside. It was nice to get outdoors and into the fresh air to listen to the live music. I believe there were 3 different live musical acts and we were fortunate to see one of them that day. We saw visitors singing along and a few couples were on their feet dancing, having a great time!
Near the entrance of the museum we spotted some “live” exhibits! There were men and women dressed up in Civil War uniforms and clothing. They had tents set up and you could see what camp life was like during the war. A few of these “actors” spent time giving us some information on the Battle of Gettysburg, camp life, guns & artillery and if they were portraying a particular character/person, we learned about that too!
We had a great time at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center for the Ford Family Day event! I covered a good portion of the events that day here in my feature, but not all of them. There was something for everyone to enjoy and thanks to Ford Motor Company Fund, families were able to enjoy all of the activities for free. Thank you Ford, the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park for putting on a fabulous event for area families!
Disclosure: We were invited to attend the event as press/media. No monetary compensation was paid to us for the coverage. Our words, thoughts and opinions are 100% our own.