GETTYSBURG FOUNDATION NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dru Anne Neil
Gettysburg Foundation Campaign Tops $93 Million Gettysburg, Pa. (Feb. 16, 2007)- The Gettysburg Foundation announced today that it has secured more than $93 million in funding toward its Campaign to Preserve Gettysburg.
At the same time, it revised its fundraising goal to $125 million, which includes funds to build, furnish and operate the new Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park, to preserve the park’s extensive collection of Civil War artifacts and archives, including the massive Cyclorama painting, to return portions of the battlefield to their 1863 appearance, and to create an endowment to support future preservation and maintenance needs. The goal also includes additional preservation projects previously handled by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg. The Friends merged last summer with the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation to form the Gettysburg Foundation. Construction of the new Museum and Visitor Center remains on schedule for a spring 2008 opening, Foundation President Robert C. Wilburn said. Within the last few weeks, workers put in place the cupola atop the Cyclorama gallery. The circular structure in the center of the new facility will be the first to be completed, to accommodate the ongoing conservation of the 365-foot painting. The next phase of that project will take place in the new gallery; the conservation team anticipates moving the painting into its new home later this spring. “It is difficult to describe the sense of anticipation we feel as these new facilities take shape,” Wilburn said. “I am often asked to describe the new Gettysburg experience, in the context of what visitors encounter today. The short answer is that there is no comparison.
“From the start,” Wilburn said, “we have worked to ensure that the Gettysburg experience reaches its full potential. Our goal has been to showcase the battlefield and the town, and to offer an experience that not only excites and inspires visitors, but also helps them appreciate the significance of what happened here. As one of our nation’s most sacred places, Gettysburg deserves nothing less.”
Additional investment in the museum exhibit galleries, along with the Foundation’s commitment to an environmentally sustainable facility and site, account for a significant portion of the increase in the campaign goal. Costs to conserve the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting and to rehabilitate portions of the battlefield also have grown as experts handling those two projects have gained a greater understanding of how best to accomplish them.
The thread that ties all of these decisions together, Wilburn notes, is the ongoing commitment on the part of the Foundation and the National Park Service to provide the best possible experience for current and future generations of Gettysburg visitors.
Wilburn noted that the campaign goal, including facilities costs, is consistent with that of other major museums in the mid-Atlantic region, including the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the new American Revolution Center Museum at Valley Forge, Pa., George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Va., the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va., and the proposed U.S. National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg, Va.
He describes the core components of the campaign in terms of support for the Foundation’s objectives in the areas of education, preservation and visitor services.
Gettysburg offers lessons one simply cannot get from a textbook. Facilities and programs made possible through the Campaign to Preserve Gettysburg will promote a better understanding of how the struggles of 1863 relate to the challenges the nation faces today.
The Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War will put America’s turning point in perspective, using exhibits, sound, video and setting to give visitors a deeper understanding of the war and its impact.
Appropriately, the themes of the museum’s 11 galleries will be based on phrases from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Five films, two voices theaters and a variety of computer interactives will immerse visitors in the causes and consequences, sights and sounds, of the war. A Special Exhibits Gallery will use temporary and traveling exhibits to broaden the number of topics covered in the museum. A new 25-minute feature film will offer a dramatic introduction to and overview of the battle.
Two state-of-the-art indoor educational resource centers and three outdoor classrooms will provide much-needed space for study visits, teacher workshops and distance learning programs.
Visitors will be able to use a resource room, located adjacent to the exhibit galleries, to access information related to the Civil War, the Gettysburg Campaign, the preservation of the Gettysburg battlefield and the creation of Gettysburg National Military Park. Through this room, visitors also will have access to the information presented in the museum galleries.
The library/reading room will house manuscripts, letters, documents, periodicals and photographs, along with books, microfilm and a digital library. It will be open to scholars, researchers and the public on an appointment basis.
The battlefield; the letters, photos and diaries of those who fought; and the stories of all who sacrificed for their beliefs are irreplaceable treasures that can inspire, teach and strengthen today’s visitors and future generations.
The Gettysburg Cyclorama painting is the largest, and one of the most important, artifacts in the collection. It is being returned, as close as possible, to its original glory and will be hung in a new gallery with proper conditions for its preservation. The new Gettysburg Cyclorama painting experience will include recreation of the skyline, the canopy and the three-dimensional diorama that have been missing for more than 40 years.
Visitors also will encounter exhibits on the history of the painting and itsconservation.
Museum-standard, environmentally controlled collection storage facilities will help ensure that the park’s collections can be appreciated for generations to come.
Ziegler’s Grove, the site of the Union battle line on July 2-3, 1863, will be rehabilitated to its 1863 appearance, providing visitors with a sense of place and the opportunity to honor the men who fought there.
The Foundation considers an environmentally sustainable building and site as important an investment for future generations as the preservation of the collection, and the exhibits and programs that will excite and inspire. A geothermal system will use the earth’s constant 55-degree temperature to heat and cool a significant portion of the new facility. The overall design of the building supports a number of key environmental goals, beginning with the attainment of LEED performance certification at the “silver” level for energy efficiency, ozone protection, indoor air quality, site development protection and support for occupant and visitor recycling programs.
An ongoing land acquisition program will create a buffer and remove from potential development as much land as possible around the site of the new facilities. The Foundation also is preserving as many wetland areas on the site as possible: For the 0.682 acres of wetlands that will be disturbed by the new facilities, the Foundation is creating almost three times that amount – 1.912 acres.
With the opening of the new Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg will finally have the facilities to accommodate all who come here. Visitor services will make the Gettysburg experience more engaging and informative for everyone.
A three-minute orientation video – the initial “Gettysburg How-To” – will give visitors a clear outline of all they can see and do within the museum, on the battlefield and in the town.
Dedicated entrances for groups and for leisure visitors will provide easy access to museum experiences, tour and shuttle buses. To help ensure convenient traffic flow and ample parking, the grounds surrounding the new facility have been increased to 100 acres. Walking trails, picnic areas and a bus drivers’ lounge are among the visitor amenities.
A Refreshment Saloon will feature foods that reflect recipes popular with soldiers and civilians of the Civil War era. On the adjacent Dining Terrace, visitors will be able to enjoy their own picnics, or sample the fare from the Refreshment Saloon. A Bookstore and Museum Shop will feature an extensive selection of appropriately themed books, as well as a wide variety of Gettysburg-related accessories.
Funding for an endowment to support ongoing preservation and maintenance needs, as well as administrative costs, complete the $125 million campaign goal. Administrative costs include fundraising activities and Foundation staff; interest, taxes and insurance costs; as well as office space in the new facilities to house National Park Service and Foundation staff.
The Gettysburg Foundation is a private, nonprofit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg. For more information about the Foundation, the Friends of Gettysburg, and the Campaign to Preserve Gettysburg, call 1-866-889-1243 or visit online at www.gettysburgfoundation.org or www.friendsofgettysburg.org.
Wow. Let’s hope that visitors don’t forget to visit the, uh… battlefield.