Northeast Times

All about George

How com­pre­hens­ive is the Wash­ing­ton ex­hib­it at the Na­tion­al Con­sti­tu­tion Cen­ter? Well, it even has his den­tures.

George Wash­ing­ton rode a white horse to ad­dress a crowd at the Na­tion­al Con­sti­tu­tion Cen­ter and re­called how many things have changed since he was last in Phil­adelphia.

The Fath­er of Our Coun­try no­ticed the Ben­jamin Frank­lin Bridge as he rode his horse to the June 30 lunch­eon.

“I could have used that on Dec. 25, 1776,” he said, not­ing the fam­ous cross­ing of the Delaware River to cap­ture 1,000 Hes­si­ans in Trenton.

This George Wash­ing­ton was an im­per­son­at­or, act­or John Lopes, hired to pro­mote the open­ing of Dis­cov­er the Real George Wash­ing­ton: New Views From Mount Ver­non.

The 6,500-square-foot ex­hib­it opened Ju­ly 1 — Wash­ing­ton cut the ce­re­mo­ni­al rib­bon — and will con­tin­ue through Sept. 5 at the Na­tion­al Con­sti­tu­tion Cen­ter.

Wash­ing­ton and his Con­tin­ent­al Army re­gi­ments were in town dur­ing the hol­i­day week­end, “just in case the Brit­ish de­cide to at­tack us again.”

The ex­hib­it takes a look at Phil­adelphia’s role in the life of Wash­ing­ton, who led the vic­tory in the Amer­ic­an Re­volu­tion, chaired the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Con­ven­tion and was elec­ted in 1789 as the na­tion’s first pres­id­ent. He served two terms.

Wash­ing­ton slept, dined, spoke, met and planned his ad­ven­tures in houses, inns, apart­ments, tents and farms throughout the city and sur­round­ing coun­tryside.

The 11 sec­tions of the ex­hib­it also in­clude com­pre­hens­ive in­form­a­tion on Wash­ing­ton’s life, from his youth to mil­it­ary ca­reer to the pres­id­ency and to farm­ing. He died in 1799 at age 67.

Phil­adelphia is the fourth stop on a nine-city tour. The ex­hib­it was most re­cently in St. Paul, Minn., and will travel next to Fort Worth, Texas.

The Mount Ver­non Ladies As­so­ci­ation or­gan­ized the ex­hib­it, which is fun­ded by the Don­ald W. Reyn­olds Found­a­tion, a phil­an­throp­ic or­gan­iz­a­tion foun­ded in 1954 and named in memory of the me­dia en­tre­pren­eur.

The ex­hib­it fea­tures al­most 100 ob­jects from the his­tor­ic Mount Ver­non Es­tate & Gar­dens in Vir­gin­ia. There are three full-scale fig­ures of Wash­ing­ton, ar­chi­tec­tur­al mod­els, dec­or­at­ive and fine art items, maps, manuscripts and paint­ings.

Among the high­lights are an ori­gin­al set of Wash­ing­ton’s den­tures, Gil­bert Stu­art’s clas­sic­al Wash­ing­ton por­trait, the Wash­ing­ton fam­ily Bible and ori­gin­al pieces of Martha Wash­ing­ton’s jew­elry.

Guests can watch a series of His­tory Chan­nel videos and use in­ter­act­ive touch screens to bring stor­ies to life.

In ad­di­tion, the cen­ter is host­ing The Pres­id­ent’s House: Their Un­told Stor­ies in Quilts. The col­lec­tion of art quilts cel­eb­rates the nine slaves owned by George and Martha.

Among those at the ce­re­mony launch­ing the ex­hib­it were Dav­id Eis­ner, pres­id­ent and CEO of the Na­tion­al Con­sti­tu­tion Cen­ter; James Rees, pres­id­ent and CEO of the Mount Ver­non prop­erty; Michelle Flamer, cur­at­or of The Pres­id­ent’s House: Their Un­told Stor­ies in Quilts; and Adam Joseph, a met­eor­o­lo­gist at 6ABC, which is the ex­hib­it’s me­dia spon­sor.

Guests saw how the Great­er Phil­adelphia Tour­ism Mar­ket­ing Cor­por­a­tion is pro­mot­ing the ex­hib­it. There is a tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial call­ing Wash­ing­ton a “real Amer­ic­an idol” and a bill­board pro­claim­ing, “Dad’s home.”

Rees is hope­ful that young people learn a lot while vis­it­ing the ex­hib­it. He cited a re­cent Wall Street Journ­al art­icle in which his­tor­i­an Dav­id Mc­Cul­lough said young Amer­ic­ans are “his­tor­ic­ally il­lit­er­ate.”

Rees blames schools, cit­ing a sur­vey that showed sev­en in 10 young­sters falsely be­lieve that Illinois, Cali­for­nia and Texas were among the 13 ori­gin­al colon­ies.

“We’ve been short-shrift­ing Amer­ic­an his­tory for dec­ades,” he said.

For loc­als who don’t know, Phil­adelphia tem­por­ar­ily be­came the U.S. cap­it­al in 1790.

Eis­ner said fam­il­ies will be “sav­ing a pock­et­ful of Wash­ing­tons” by bring­ing kids age 12 and un­der to the ex­hib­it for free. The young­sters will learn about the con­nec­tion between the city and the war hero who helped lay the frame­work for the new gov­ern­ment and later be­came its first pres­id­ent.

“Phil­adelphia is the epi­cen­ter of the George Wash­ing­ton ex­per­i­ence,” he said. ••

For more in­form­a­tion, call 215-409-6700 or vis­it www.con­sti­tu­tion­cen­ter.org/sum­mer­ofwash­ing­ton

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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