An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia—a 1,000-square-foot traveling panel exhibition comprised of images and interpretive text—explores the people and communities affected by the greatest turmoil to happen on American soil. The exhibition, which allows the people of the past to speak for themselves, will appear at the Petersburg Public Library free of charge from November 10 to November 24. The Library hours are: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The exhibition is designed to appeal to a broad audience by giving voice to previously marginalized participants—free and enslaved African Americans, Unionists, women, and children. By presenting real stories about real people representing a variety of perspectives, it shows how civil war disrupts society and is experienced by more than just soldiers.
An American Turning Point is divided into ten themes that focus on various aspects of the war. The exhibition asks visitors questions that may challenge conventional wisdom about the Civil War, such as “Why did the Civil War Happen?”, “The First Modern War?”, “Who Freed the Slaves?”, and “Did the Civil War End at Appomattox?”
"Even if visitors know a great deal about the Civil War, we challenge them to take another look at history and the stories that unfold within this exhibition. We hope that the exhibition enriches Petersburg's educational experience for youth and that adults will appreciate it too. Our goal is to add another perspective to our permanent exhibits within our museums," said Brian C. Little, Sr., Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Arts and Tourism for the City of Petersburg.
In addition to the images and text, An American Turning Point also allows visitors to experience history by offering an innovative companion website designed specifically for use on mobile devices. Accessible through a URL or QR-Code available only in the exhibition, the website includes educational videos, 360-degree renderings of Civil War objects, and additional content.
“We don’t expect that An American Turning Point will answer every question or resolve lingering debates that continue even after the passage of 150 years,” says Andrew Talkov, Exhibition Coordinator at the Virginia Historical Society. “We do hope, however, that visitors—particularly those who arrive with little or no interest in the subject—leave the exhibition with a desire to learn more about the commonwealth’s rich history and its role in our nation’s past, present, and future.”
The An American Turning Point panel exhibition is traveling to localities throughout Virginia during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. It compliments a 3,000-square-foot gallery exhibition featuring more than 200 artifacts and seventeen interactive audiovisual programs that will be displayed in eight Virginia museums between 2011 and 2015.
An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia is organized by the Virginia Historical Society in partnership with the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. It has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and is sponsored in Petersburg at the Petersburg Public Library by the City of Petersburg.
To learn more about An American Turning Point, and to see an online version of the exhibition, visit the Virginia Historical Society’s website at www.vahistorical.org. For more information about all of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission projects, visit www.VirginiaCivilWar.org.
For more information on City events, services and programs, please visit: www.PetersburgVa.Gov.
For 180 years, the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) has been the steward of our state—and often national—history. The VHS features award—winning exhibitions that are entertaining and educational for visitors of all ages. Although designated the Official State Historical Society, the VHS is a privately funded non-profit organization that relies on contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations to sustain its operations. The VHS is located at 428 North Boulevard in Richmond. Admission to the research library and museum galleries is free. Museum hours are Monday—Saturday 10 a.m.—5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m.—5 p.m. Library hours are Monday—Saturday 10 a.m.—5 p.m. For group tour information, call (804) 342-9652. For more information, call (804) 358-4901 or visit www.vahistorical.org.
Led by Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell, the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission has organized a series of commemorative events from 2009 through 2015, including annual Signature Conferences, a major gallery exhibition at the Virginia Historical Society, a document digitization project with the Library of Virginia, and an Emmy-nominated DVD produced by James I. Robertson, Jr. for use in classrooms. Virginia is a national leader of the sesquicentennial by virtue of strong partnerships, well-developed initiatives, and a panoramic and inclusive approach to history.