My wife and I are history buffs. Our rating is based on the educational value of the museum; as you will read below we found a few problems, but do go to see the museum. The museum contains the largest collections that exists anywhere of artifacts connected with the battle at Gettysburg and it is the museum you want to see if you have a real interest in the history of the battle. The company that runs the place doesn't post the price for the museum only admission, but it is available without seeing the movie. If you've got children along see the movie and then the museum, but museum only admission is available without the movie, for a slight discount.
A very large portion of the collections were given to the Park Service by the Rosensteel family who lived in the area from the time of the battle and opened private museums there years ago. Since that collection was gifted to the Park Service in 1971, there is little recognition of the Rosensteel family's contribution and the numbers of items on display have been limited. That's a local criticism, but important to those who know the history of the battle and the historical artifacts collected since.
As I said the museum contains a large collection, but the displays are poorly lit. There are methods of lighting displays of delicate artifacts and not harming them with bright light. Many exhibits don't light the explanation plaques and when you bend to read the plaque your own shadow blocks the light from above.
The overlap of sound from audio presentations in the museum is terrible, especially in the areas closer to the entrance. Despite the buildings attractive exterior, the interior is a warehouse type space (look up at the black painted girders and ceiling) and has the acoustics of the inside of large, metal garbage can. Many things could be done to improve the presentation, but the displays are well worth the visit. Again, many museums have tackled these problems successfully, displaying delicate artifacts without damage from bright light, but still accessible. Sound presentations can be managed much better that they do here. Perhaps in the future this exhibit will improve, but for those willing to work at seeing it, it is worth your time to look around the imperfections and learn about the battle by seeing the artifacts, maps and presentations.
Another poorly designed area are the sidewalks leading from the outer parking lots. The mild Sunday in September we were there it was crowded. The sidewalks are too narrow for slow walkers or handicapped people not to cause a jam up. There's no room for faster moving people to pass easily. Look past these problems and get into the museums displays. It is worth it.
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