Discussion Best museums

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MikeyB

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Hi everyone. A few questions!
1) What do you think is the best overall Civil War museum in the country? Most extensive collections, knowledgeable staff, interest exhibits and descriptions, etc?
2) I would imagine a lot of the best museums are down South - if you were more interested in viewing collections of Union items and artifacts, are there any particular museums that stand out in your mind?
3) Geographically speaking - what is the best Civil War museum in the Northeast?
4) What is the best Civil War museum in Washington DC if you have a day to kill there?
 

thomas aagaard

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My knowledge of museums in the US is 22 years old, but what I remember from my 3 week trip in 1998 is not the museums, but the battlefields.
Getting out of the car and talking a walk at Gettysburg, Shiloh and Vicksburg. (and a number of other places)

Seeing a musket in a glassbox is simply not that impressive compared to holding one and all the museums got some. So the places that had a guy showing the drill and guns and shooting them with blanks was much much better than the places that did not.

I remember a private museum at Petersburg that was pretty good but no longer remember why it was good and again, that was 22 years ago.

"if you were more interested in viewing collections of Union items and artifacts, are there any particular museums that stand out in your mind? "
If you are a real nerd about the gear used by the US army just before the war, you should drop by the Danish war museum in Copenhagen. It got a complete set of infantry and a complete set of cavalry gear from 1858 that don't exist anywhere else.
 

luinrina

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I found the Civil War Museum in Appomattox pretty good as well as the museum in the Gettysburg visitor center. Both were quite extensive and had lots of artifacts on display.

The museum at Pamplin Park in Petersburg looked also quite extensive and interesting, but I could only rush through it since they were about to close. I want to go back there and take my time though.
 
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jackt62

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In terms of extensive, contemporary style displays, I the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA and the museum at Gettysburg Military National Park are quite good.
 
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James N.

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Probably the Visitor Center at Gettysburg - you can easily spend an entire day there if you want to really see everything. For exotic Confederate memorabilia the Museum of the Civil War (Formerly Museum of the Confederacy) at Appomattox just outside the park boundary at the highway interchange is probably the best:
 
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Ole Miss

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@MikeyB all of the suggestions above are excellent and worthy of visiting. I love museums and as Ole Brother Dave would say, "the worst I ever say was wonderful" paraphasing.
However, you really need to go to Chickamauga and see the battlefield and the Fuller Gun collection. Visit the thread listed below
Regards
David
 

Bruce Vail

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I found the Civil War Museum in Appomattox pretty good as well as the museum in the Gettysburg visitor center. Both were quite extensive and had lots of artifacts on display.

The museum at Pamplin Park in Petersburg looked also quite extensive and interesting, but I could only rush through it since they were about to close. I want to go back there and take my time though.
I recall being very impressed by the artifact displays at the Gettysburg Visitors Center. I would have like to spend more time there.
 
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bdtex

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I loved the Museum of the Confederacy in New Orleans. It was not one of the newer style 'interpretive' museums and I really enjoyed being able to peruse the collection there. It was on the smaller side, but that did not take away from the experience.
That would be Confederate Memorial Hall.
 
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J C J Barefoot

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Hi everyone. A few questions!
1) What do you think is the best overall Civil War museum in the country? Most extensive collections, knowledgeable staff, interest exhibits and descriptions, etc?
2) I would imagine a lot of the best museums are down South - if you were more interested in viewing collections of Union items and artifacts, are there any particular museums that stand out in your mind?
3) Geographically speaking - what is the best Civil War museum in the Northeast?
4) What is the best Civil War museum in Washington DC if you have a day to kill there?
If you have two to three days here is the trip. Harrisburg's Civil War museum is very good --plan two hours to visit and it's a an hour from Gettysburg. I agree with others the visitor center at GB is excellent. Plan three hours. Also , a place that is small but very special and unique is on the second floor of the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Basilica and Church in Emmitsburg about a half hour drive from the Battlefield. The first floor is devoted to the first American Saint--whichifyouare interessted in things Christian is also outstanding. It was there that the 1st and 11th Corp camped on the night before the battle opened and it is there where you will see unique exhibits from the Nuns and Sisters that nursed the dead and wounded on the battlefield. For example, I learned that Reynold's stayed there and after his death his fiance entered the order of sisters there. About an hour south of that in Fredrick Md. is the American Museum of Civil War Medicine where you can learn much about wounds and recovery. They have frequent lectures of interest. So, you can hit four place in two days and see something different in each. Remember that these are places for the general public ...so much of it will be introductory.

Pamplin National in Petersburg is devoted to the common soldier. It's also worth a visit and would take about three hours to go through. A three hour drive west of Appomottox which has a smaller but good exhibit.

If I was in DC I would go to Ford's Theater and the Peters house across the street where Abe died. Very moving. Then I would make the trip to Arlington House at Arlington National Cemetary to Lee's estate. Two years ago it was under renovation. I'm not aware of CW devoted museums in DC.

By the way, if you are ever near Springfield Illinois the Lincoln Museum is quite good and would take two hours and then make the trip to the Lincoln home and fully restored neighborhood. You can see the entire block as it once was.

Hope this helps.
 

MikeyB

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Sep 13, 2018
If you have two to three days here is the trip. Harrisburg's Civil War museum is very good --plan two hours to visit and it's a an hour from Gettysburg. I agree with others the visitor center at GB is excellent. Plan three hours. Also , a place that is small but very special and unique is on the second floor of the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Basilica and Church in Emmitsburg about a half hour drive from the Battlefield. The first floor is devoted to the first American Saint--whichifyouare interessted in things Christian is also outstanding. It was there that the 1st and 11th Corp camped on the night before the battle opened and it is there where you will see unique exhibits from the Nuns and Sisters that nursed the dead and wounded on the battlefield. For example, I learned that Reynold's stayed there and after his death his fiance entered the order of sisters there. About an hour south of that in Fredrick Md. is the American Museum of Civil War Medicine where you can learn much about wounds and recovery. They have frequent lectures of interest. So, you can hit four place in two days and see something different in each. Remember that these are places for the general public ...so much of it will be introductory.

Pamplin National in Petersburg is devoted to the common soldier. It's also worth a visit and would take about three hours to go through. A three hour drive west of Appomottox which has a smaller but good exhibit.

If I was in DC I would go to Ford's Theater and the Peters house across the street where Abe died. Very moving. Then I would make the trip to Arlington House at Arlington National Cemetary to Lee's estate. Two years ago it was under renovation. I'm not aware of CW devoted museums in DC.

By the way, if you are ever near Springfield Illinois the Lincoln Museum is quite good and would take two hours and then make the trip to the Lincoln home and fully restored neighborhood. You can see the entire block as it once was.

Hope this helps.
Great suggestions. Thank you and to everyone else on the board for their thoughts
 
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Nathanb1

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We have a lovely museum here in Texas--and feel extremely lucky! The Texas Civil War Museum is on the north side of Fort Worth, and contains a lifetime of goodies collected by a gentleman and his wife. It's focused on Texas--but has a nice selection of Union artifacts--including a presentation sword given to Grant by (?) Cincinnati, Ohio, Nathaniel Banks' hat, and Benjamin Butler's uniform and huge boots. There is a small bit of Lee and Stuart memorabilia, and Charles Goodnight's rawhide hat, which must have been hell to wear in the Texas heat and rain. The gun collection is also quite nice.

I'd also point out the Lee collection at Washington & Lee, and VMI's museum. We thoroughly enjoyed them.
 

jackt62

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Pamplin National in Petersburg is devoted to the common soldier. It's also worth a visit and would take about three hours to go through
Agreed. Pamplin is also the site of the breakthrough of the Petersburg lines by federal forces after the Confederate defeat at Five Forks. There are some interesting trails that go by the remnants of the trenches.
 
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MikeyB

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Agreed. Pamplin is also the site of the breakthrough of the Petersburg lines by federal forces after the Confederate defeat at Five Forks. There are some interesting trails that go by the remnants of the trenches.
How extensive are the remaining trenches to visit? If one were to visit it would they see trenches as far as the eyes can see and have a good idea of what it was like? Or is really only a small section remaining?
 

bdtex

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There are a lot of museums I have not been to yet. Of the ones I have been to,these would be the top 3. Posting them in the order they were visited.

1. Mariners Museum in Newport News,VA: The USS Monitor/CSS Virginia exhibit alone makes it worth a long visit.
2. Museum Of The Confederacy in Appomattox,VA.
3. The Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth,Texas. It is the largest private collection museum in the United States.
 
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