North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center

The Last Six Weeks exhibit
 

North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center

 

FAYETTEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA | ONGOING

 
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Sited on the preserved, historic ruins of a pivotal Civil War landmark, the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center intends to expand the typical view of the American Civil War to include the stories of all North Carolinians, including: Native American tribes, Quaker pacifists, women, and children.

 

Expanding on this more-than-usual, inclusive story, the narrative spans the entire Civil War era, taking visitors through the Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods.

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The center features an expansive outdoor park area with historically preserved ruins of the Fayetteville Arsenal and an 18,000 square foot museum facility.

 
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Approach and Grounds

The visitor’s experience begins on the outdoor pedestrian bridge connecting the historic landmarks to the museum facility. This preamble provides an introduction to the exhibit concepts and themes, and orientation to the historic grounds that will be interpreted in the exhibit.

 
 
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The Last Six Weeks

The highlight of the exhibit—and the apex of the story—is a 3-D, theater-in-the-round experience.

A theatrical production like no other, it immerses visitors in the events of Sherman’s Final March and the destruction of the Fayetteville Arsenal, the ruins of which are located just outside the doors of the Museum building.

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Before and After

In order to tell the full story of the Civil War, entire galleries are devoted to the Antebellum and Reconstruction periods in North Carolina and the United States.

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This approach exposes visitors to a more complete history of the events and circumstances that created the atmosphere leading to the Civil War, and they get to see the repercussions—and developments—that shaped our nation after.

 
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War Stories

The exhibit delves deeply into the Civil War, particularly in North Carolina and North Carolinians—a state and people both divided and united in many ways.

 
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Youth Path

The Eisterhold Associates team worked with Turnkey Education to facilitate several focus group sessions with local fourth and eighth grade students and teachers.

The focus groups were used to benchmark kids’ current level of understanding of the Civil War and the concepts surrounding it.

 
 

The resulting data was used to develop children’s programming, which was then incorporated into the Museum’s master plan, strongly influencing the exhibit design direction, floor plan, and programming.

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The focus group findings resulted in significant changes to the museum programming and floor plan. EAI incorporated a “youth path” to provide context and target the historical highlights and important themes on a simpler, “up-close-and-personal” perspective, and at a lower physical level.

Rather than tell the history of military strategy and battles, Youth Path content addresses issues kids are curious about, answering the questions kids posed during the focus groups: How did these people live? What did they do? What did they eat and wear?

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Digital Master Plan

The North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center is a forward-looking institution that intends to incorporate comprehensive media programming and long-distance learning into their educational programming.

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To facilitate this approach, we developed a comprehensive digital master plan in tandem with the physical exhibit master plan.

The digital master plan established a digital and media infrastructure for current and ongoing exhibit programs that not only facilitates education programming, but helps to improve the visitor experience at the center.