More than a collection of artifacts, at the American Civil War Museum we are storytellers and
educators. In the battle against the all-too-human instinct to wish the past were simple, we
strive to show that the Civil War holds an unparalleled significance to the complexities of our
culture. Since opening in May of this year, the new American Civil War Museum has welcomed
visitors from across the country and the world. The Museum strives to reach new audiences
across all three sites, while maintaining the interest of return visitors.
With a goal of communicating human connections to history and current culture, the Museum’s
exhibits tell stories of how the War affected Americans across the divides of race, gender and
nationality. The Museum is always looking to provide our visitors with multiple perspectives and
added dimensions of the Civil War.
The 29,000 square foot Museum structure is a glass curtain surrounding the original ruin wall of
the historic Tredegar Ironworks. Tredegar was the biggest iron works in the Confederacy during
the Civil War producing munitions and cannons.
Our permanent exhibit, A People’s Contest: Struggles for Nation and Freedom in Civil War
America, features more than 500 original artifacts. Organized chronologically as well as by
topic, each gallery within the exhibit explores an aspect of the War that occurred during the
1850’s and 1860’s. Political developments are interwoven with civilian experiences and military
events, providing multiple perspectives in a multifaceted manner. Technology is used
selectively to impact the visitors’ experience and encourage their engagement with artifacts and
A unique feature of the exhibit are the large-scale colorized photos, designed to give the visitor
a better sense of the actual people who experienced the Civil War. The recurring “fracturing”
motif, with irregular shapes and sharp angles serve as a metaphor for the splintering of the
An additional, temporary exhibit, Greenback America , tells the story of how the United States’
decision on how to pay off the Civil War transformed the relationship between government, the
economy, banks, and citizens. A visually stunning display of the story is presented through an
imaginative and artful arrangement of many pieces of money. Using poems, songs, cartoons,
jokes, and newspaper clippings, visitors explore how Americans assigned cultural meaning to
money and that helped them interpret politics, patriotism and race. In the final section of the
exhibit, visitors are prompted to think about the ways technology is reshaping our relationship
By presenting multiple perspectives of the Civil War from Union and Confederate, free and
enslaved African Americans, and civilians and soldiers, the American Civil War Museum is
changing the narrative.