But Mariah and Steven Quad, ages 8 and 6, cut to the chase.
“It’s really fun and you can learn a lot from it,” said Mariah, a third-grader from Morris Township.
“And it’s cool,” added her kid brother.
That’s pretty much the response that the National Park Service and the Washington Association of New Jersey were hoping for when they envisioned this hands-on assortment of touch-screens, push-button maps and faux-log huts, which describe the brutal winter of 1779-80 that Gen. George Washington and his ragtag Continental Army endured in Morristown during the Revolutionary War.
Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove:
“As we enter the park’s 85th year, we are thrilled to have these new exhibits, which will engage, inspire and educate adults and children for many years to come,” said Tom Ross, superintendent of the Morristown National Historical Park.
Created by Steve Feldman Design of Maryland, the exhibit attempts to answer the obvious question: Why did these soldiers endure such hardships, when prospects for defeating the mighty British empire seemed so bleak? said Eileen Cameron, president of the Washington Association of New Jersey.
Video: Critics weigh in history exhibit
While meant for everyone, the Discover History Center is geared especially for young visitors.
“Ten-year-olds, fourth graders, who study the American Revolutionary War and the founding of the nation, are very busy people,” Cameron said.
“Schools, sports and screens–TVs, computers, tablets and phones– fill their lives. The new gallery is for them, and all students, and we hope to lure them in for just a bit to the gallery, and to the story of Morristown, New Jersey, and the American colonists and their fight for independence, liberties and freedoms,” she said.
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin:
Dignitaries included Gay Vietzke, northeast regional director for the National Park Service, and former NPS Morristown Superintendent Randy Turner; Assemblymen Anthony M. Bucco and Michael Patrick Carroll; Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo; and Morristown Councilman Robert Iannaccone.
Kenneth MacKenzie, a retired state judge who is a member of the Washington Association, said he thinks the Park Service got it right at the Discover History Center.
“Kids today want push buttons and touch screens to make things happen. They’ll find ample opportunity here,” said MacKenzie.
Their grandparents should like it, too.
“I feel it’s a daunting challenge, but by sticking with it, you can make it work–even for octogenerians,” MacKenzie said with a smile.
Admission is free to the Discover History Center, along with the rest of the Washington’s Headquarters Museum and the Ford Mansion, at 30 Washington Place in Morristown. Special Presidents Weekend activities continue from 9:30 am to 3 pm on Monday, Feb. 19, and from 9:30 am to 1 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018.
Video: Grand opening sights and sounds, from Jeff Bross
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