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MRL Hosts Civil War Exhibition


Massanutten Regional Library Hosts Innovative Exhibition 
About Civil War in Virginia

Inclusive Exhibition Open to County, City, Area Residents and Visitors Free of Charge

Massanutten Regional Library and the Virginia Historical Society have collaborated to bring An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia—a 1000 square foot traveling panel exhibition comprised of images and interpretive text, to Massanutten Regional Library Main for public view August 27-September 8, 2012. This exhibit is open to the public and free of charge.

The exhibition explores the peoples and communities affected by the greatest turmoil to happen on American soil. 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?” 

“We are so excited to be able to bring this exhibit to MRL during the celebrations for the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. Virginia was at the center of much of this conflict and the exhibit shows the impact beyond the battlefield for the people of the Shenandoah Valley.” says Susan Versen, MRL Reference Librarian.

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 3000 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 Harrisonburg at Massanutten Regional Library Main.  

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, or personally visit the exhibition at Massanutten Regional Library, Harrisonburg, August 27-September 8.

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