YORKTOWN, Va., March 12, 2015 – With the completion of an 80,000-square-foot building – a distinctive new Yorktown landmark – the Yorktown Victory Center has reached a midpoint milestone in its transformation into the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.
The Yorktown Victory Center and the museum replacement project are managed by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency that also operates Jamestown Settlement history museum.
Museum operations transitioned from the existing facility to the new building this week. Visitors are welcomed in an expansive two-story entrance lobby, with access to a museum gift shop and a café. Before entering the ticketed area, visitors can watch a new Yorktown Victory Center orientation video and find information about other area attractions.
In the 170-seat museum theater, until the premiere of new introductory film in 2016, three films will be shown on a rotating basis, each prefaced by a 60-second preview of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. “The Road to Yorktown,” which debuted with the opening of the Yorktown Victory Center in 1976 during the national Bicentennial, and “A Time of Revolution,” shown daily since 1995, focus on the 1781 Siege of Yorktown and events that led up to it, with emphasis on the perspectives and personal stories of those involved. “Liberty’s Call,” a new film produced by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s video production team to be added to the rotation this spring, combines period images with present-day interviews to explore the American ideal of liberty from its inception to the establishment of a national government, and across time to today.
Next to the theater is a 5,000 square-foot space for future special exhibitions. A timeline corridor leading to the museum’s outdoor living-history areas borders a 22,000 square-foot space where construction of permanent gallery exhibits, planned to open by late 2016, is underway. The corridor provides a visual journey from the 13 British colonies in the 1750s to westward expansion of the new United States in the 1790s. A short video at the end of the corridor introduces visitors to the museum’s outdoor re-created Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm.
While work continues on the new galleries, special visitor participatory experiences will be offered in the corridor and nearby classrooms and on an outdoor event lawn. Periodic topics include military tactics, nationalities represented at the Siege of Yorktown, espionage, choosing sides during the Revolution, enlistment in the Continental Army, and military medicine.
A section of the new museum building serves as a venue for learning experiences for student groups as well as the general public. A separate entrance to the education center provides direct access to group check-in and five classrooms that support segments of curriculum-based structured educational programming and other museum special programs.
The building was designed by Westlake Reed Leskosky of Cleveland, Ohio, and built by W.M. Jordan Company, Inc., of Newport News. W.M. Jordan also is construction manager for new parking areas and removal of pre-existing structures. In addition to public spaces, the new building houses support functions – a meeting and special event space with a panoramic view of the York River, staff offices, library, historical clothing workshop, exhibit preparation and collection storage, and building and grounds maintenance. The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation's central support complex, located midway between Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center, continues to provide a range of support services for both museums.
The 1976 museum building will be demolished this spring after the transition to the new building is complete, making way for construction of new outdoor interpretive areas and amenities. A living-history experience in the encampment and farm, currently in a temporary location, will remain available to museum visitors throughout the transition.
Construction of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown began in mid-2012, and the entire project is planned for completion by late 2016, when the new name will replace “Yorktown Victory Center.” Major components of the project total approximately $50 million. Planning, site renovations, and building and exhibit construction are funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Private donations, coordinated by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc., are supporting elements of gallery and outdoor exhibits and educational resources.
The Yorktown Victory Center is located at Route 1020 and the Colonial Parkway (200 Water Street) and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.historyisfun.org.