how will you commemorate the Civil War’s 150th anniversary?


Winslow Homer's 1862 Study of a Drummer, in the collection of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Here at Affiliations, we’ve been hearing about all kinds of plans to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.   Thinking about borrowing artifacts?  Looking for a speaker for a conference or public program?  Wonder what kinds of exhibitions other museums are organizing?   Here’s what we’ve heard so far from inside the Smithsonian and around the Affiliate network.


For the Smithsonian, the best and first stop to view the vast and manifold collections on this topic is the Civil War@Smithsonian website.  There, artifacts from several Smithsonian museums are grouped under such topics as Slavery & Abolition, Soldiering, Life & Culture, Leaders and Abraham Lincoln, among others.  (The site even talks about the various ways that the Smithsonian itself was involved in the Civil War.) 


And speaking of Lincoln, you’ll find a treasure trove of resources (and possible speakers) at the Lincoln Online Conference site, sponsored by the Center for Education and Museum Studies.   Here, Smithsonian scholars discuss a wide range of issues related to our 16th President from Lincoln’s Air Force to Mathew Brady’s photographs. 


For even more ideas on programming or group tour itineraries, turn to the Smithsonian Associates’ Civil War Studies site.  You can also sign up here for the Civil War Studies enewsletter for up-to-date program information and original essays exploring all facets of the War.  Want to hear about the largest stash of money ever discovered?   Invite American History numismatics curator Richard Doty to talk to your audiences about confederate currency, and show a few examples from our collection.


If you’re an art museum, don’t despair – you might be interested in what the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum is planning to commemorate the War.  Better Angels of Our Nature: Art During the Civil War and Reconstruction will examine the impact of the Civil War and its aftermath on visual arts in America.   Information on commemorative exhibitions at the Portrait Gallery will be posted soon so watch out for that.


And how about in Affiliateland?  Many Affiliates are already planning commemorations of their own.  Here are some of the plans we’ve heard about so far:


–          the Frazier International History Museum (Louisville, KY) is planning a Civil War symposium, update to its permanent exhibition, & a traveling show called My Brother My Enemy

–          the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar (Richmond, VA) is partnering with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Alabama) on a 2011 Civil War Conference

–          the American Textile History Museum (Lowell, MA) is organizing a traveling exhibition on Civil War textiles

–          the Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA) will be one of three sites to host a major Civil War exhibition and will produce two publications on photography and the role of African Americans in the Civil War, as part of PA 150,  a major statewide commemoration  

–          the African American Museum in Philadelphia (PA) has already opened the Audacious Freedoms exhibition which explores the Underground Railroad, African American soldiers in the Civil War, and other topics

–          B & O Museum (Baltimore, MD) is planning a Civil War Railroading exhibition and symposium.


What are you planning?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

2 replies
  1. Anthony Selletti
    Anthony Selletti says:

    Fort Mifflin: During the Civil War, Fort Mifflin was part of the coastal defence and used to house Confederate prisoners of war, as well as Union soldiers and civilians accused of breaking the law. The 186th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was formed to garrison there. On November 24, 1864, LTC Seth Eastman, the great American Western frontier painter, was sent to Ft. Mifflin to supervise the discharge all of the over 200 civilian and military prisoners. On January 2 1865, Eastman reported his garrison consisted of B Company, 186th PA Vol, a detachment of recruits and the hospital staff. On August 20 1865, Eastman was relieved by CPT Thomas E. Merritt, with A Company, 7th US Veteran volunteers.

  2. jennifer
    jennifer says:

    and this just in from the Portrait Gallery!

    Available speakers:
    – Frank Goodyear, Associate Curator of Photographs
    Abraham Lincoln in Historic Photographs explores how Lincoln learned to use photography as a political tool during his presidency.

    – Ann M. Shumard, Curator of Photographs
    Photographic Portraits: Powerful Persuaders in the Campaign to Abolish Slavery. This lecture traces the evolution of photography’s role as a critical tool in exposing the evils of slavery in antebellum and Civil War era- America.

    and the Gallery is planning a series of small exhibitions/installation celebrating the Civil War 150th within their American Origins permanent collection exhibition.
    – Death of Ellsworth
    – The African American Experience
    – Grant and Lee

Comments are closed.