Children of all ages now have a local museum all their own with the Gettysburg Foundation’s opening of Children of Gettysburg 1863, Saturday.
Renovated from the former Rupp House History Center on Baltimore Street that focused on the civilian side of the Battle of Gettysburg. Children of Gettysburg 1863 provides hands-on history experiences told through the children and teenagers living in town during and after the battle, according to Bethany Yingling, museum manager.
Children of Gettysburg 1863 is “an interactive adventure for young historians,” and stands out as a one-of-a-kind Gettysburg museum, according to Yingling.
“It’s the only one that is strictly for kids, and younger kids at that,” she said.
Designed for children in grades kindergarten through fifth grade, the adventure museum takes families through interactive exhibits and experiences to showcase the daily lives, chores and schooling of children who lived through this historic period.
“It is an engaging, interactive adventure where young visitors can play the drum, find a place to hide during the battle, lift the soldier’s equipment to feel the weight of the pack they carried and deliver the Gettysburg Address,” Yingling said.
While many people are familiar with Jennie Wade and other civilian adults, it’s important for children to learn about the average day of those their own age who lived through the battle, according to Yingling.
“Kids come into the museum and see that life hasn’t changed all that much,” she said.
The museum took about three years of planning, and includes signs specifically designed for child heights and reading levels as well as special carpeting, “Every decision was made with kids in mind, to make a safe and fun learning space for kids,” she said.
“It is truly a family attraction and one we are proud to unveil in promoting life-long learning and love for history,” Gettysburg Foundation President and CEO Wayne Motts said.
Also present Saturday were visits from local educational groups, Officers for The Union, and Ladies for The Union, to provide in-depth looks at lives during the Civil War, as well as a performance by the Carlisle Town Band brass band extension.
The reenactors are a great collaboration with the Gettysburg Foundation by truly helping history come alive in outdoor events especially for school groups, Yingling said.
The goal of the interactive exhibits of the children’s museum is to provide a safe and fun learning space to foster creativity, discovery, and learning, according to Yingling.
“Gettysburg has always been a must-see destination for enthusiasts, scholars and tourists, we are grateful for the opportunity to add ‘young historians’ to that list,” she said.
Children of Gettysburg 1863 is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Remembrance Day weekend, Nov. 21.
The museum’s winter hours Nov. 22. through March 31 are Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
The museum is free for ages 12 and younger with a ticketed adult. Tickets are available in person, or by calling 877-874-2478, as well as at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.
More information about the Gettysburg Foundation and Children of Gettysburg 1863 can be found at https://www.gettysburgfoundation.org/.
A.L. Grabenstein, reporter, is a graduate of Philadelphia's La Salle University with a B.A in Communication and has been a journalist since 2016. She has reported for the Gettysburg Times and the Times Herald in Norristown, PA. Grabenstein moved to Gettysburg from Montgomery County in 2019. She was born in San Antonio, TX., and previously lived in Virginia, and North Carolina. Grabenstein is actively involved in the borough of Gettysburg and loves giving voices to the local community.