‘Witness to Revolution’ unveils even more history from Washington’s War Tent

Witness to Revolution
Washington Tent Detail from Panoramic View of Verplanck’s Point.
Museum of the American Revolution / Gift of the Landenberger Family Foundation

Washington’s War Tent has been housed at the Museum of the American Revolution for years, but now, Philadelphians will be able to gain deeper knowledge of this famous artifact and all of its history.

This weekend, the Museum’s upcoming special exhibition, ‘Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington’s Tent’, will open with more than 100 artifacts from across the country. This new addition will open to the public on Feb. 17 and remain on view through Jan. 5, 2025. 

“Since the Museum’s opening, visitors who have viewed our dramatic Washington’s War Tent presentation are often moved to tears and want to know more about the tent’s role as George Washington’s wartime home and about the diverse people who ensured that it survived to the present day,” said Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, Museum President and CEO in a statement. 

Museum of the American Revolution

Stephenson continued: “Witness to Revolution will take visitors on a surprising journey of nearly 250 years, including stories of leadership, conflict, patriotism, and preservation. Washington’s tent helps us tell the American story.”

The pop-up will feature objects, documents, works of art, touchscreen interactives, audio and video elements, and more to showcase the individuals over time who helped preserve Washington’s War Tent from the Revolution to present day. 

Throughout the exhibit, Philadelphians will also learn more about the lives of Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Martha Washington on top of the lesser-known stories of Washington’s enslaved valet William Lee, who lived alongside him in the tent, and Selina Gray, the enslaved housekeeper at Arlington House in Virginia who saved the tent during the Civil War, the release notes.

Visitors will also hear stories of the tent and its travels that date back to 1783, all the way up to how the tent became a “relic” and a family heirloom, inherited by Martha Washington’s great-granddaughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who married future Confederate General Robert E. Lee in 1831. The exhibit will further explore the events that unfolded (including a decades-long campaign by the Custis-Lee descendants and a newspaper article that sparked an unlikely friendship) to lead the tent to the MoAR today. 

The release also notes that ‘Witness to Revolution’ will include a recreation of the end of the headquarters tent to give visitors a sense of the tent’s size and scale. A tactile 3D-printed diorama of Washington’s sleeping and dining tents will be available for use by guests who are blind or low vision, created and donated by Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired.

Engraving of General Washington outside his tentMuseum of the American Revolution

Some artifacts to look out for include the 1897 painting ‘In the Presence of Washington’ by Howard Pyle, an 1872 letter written by Selina Gray to Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee, and even George Washington’s foldable field bedstead among many other one-of-a-kind items. 

‘Witness to Revolution’ will also feature an audio tour, guided tour and different programs and events to go along with the exhibit. There will also be digital resources for those who can’t make it out in person, but still want to see everything that this new showcase has to offer. 

‘Witness to Revolution’ will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The 5,000 square-foot exhibition will be located in the Museum’s first-floor Patriots Gallery. Access to the exhibition is included with regular Museum admission and tickets can be purchased at AmRevMuseum.org, by calling 215-253-6731, or at the front desk.