VISUAL ARTS + MUSEUMS
Discovering the Civil War
February 12 - September 1, 2013
Discovering the Civil War, landmark exhibition from Washington D.C.’s National Archives at the Tennessee State Museum.
Layers of time and memory have obscured the American Civil War for many in a smoky haze. The real human beings, military and civilian, who lived through these years of travail and sacrifice, are lost to us, but the objects and records they left behind do offer a window into the past.
The National Archives holds millions of records, both Union and Confederate. Discovering the Civil War draws on these through letters, diaries, photos, petitions, and patents to give visitors a chance to walk in the shoes of scolars in unlocking secrets, solving mysteries, and uncovering unexpected events from this pivotal point in our nation’s history.
The exhibit is divided into 12 thematic areas that combine great original treasures, engaging touch screen interactive, and social media tools, all selected to illustrate the breadth of the conflict and to ask, "How do we know what happened?"
The original Emancipation Proclamation will be on view for a limited time during the exhibition. "It is an incredible honor for Tennessee to host the Emancipation Proclamation, a document whose significance to the history of this country, and this region in particular, cannot be overstated," according to The Honorable Bill Haslam, govenor of the Volunteer State. "This delicate manuscript represents America’s recognition that all are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and we invite people from across the Southeast and the nation to see and celebrate with us the moment our country officially became the land of the free."
The exhibition includes original treasures and several documents which will be on public view for the first time. The Discovering the Civil War exhibit, which will continue well beyond the Emancipation Proclamation’s six day viewing, is the culmination of 150 years of analysis, interpretation, and opinion on the Civil War through lesser-known stories and perspectives. Many items on display never have been publicly exhibited. Highlights include the original copy of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery along with South Carolina’s 1860 declaration of secession.