The American Civil War Museum’s, A People’s Contest, receives Silver at the Southeastern Museums Conference Exhibition Award Competition.

The American Civil War Museum’s, A People’s Contest, receives Silver at the Southeastern Museums Conference Exhibition Award Competition.

RICHMOND — October 23, 2019 —

The American Civil War Museum’s, A People’s Contest: Struggles for Nation and Freedom in Civil War America, has been awarded Silver in the Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) Exhibition Award Competition in the over $1,000,000 category.

The Museum, located at the Historic Tredegar Ironworks in Richmond, Virginia, tells the story of the War in a new and non-traditional way. The exhibit creates an immersive experience which harnesses the power of personal narratives from the multiple perspectives of Union and Confederate, enslaved and free, and soldiers and civilians from all walks of life.

Designed and fabricated by Solid Light, a full-service firm that designs and builds visitor experiences, the ACWM exhibit places less emphasis on battles and military strategy. Instead, Museum visitors experience stories of how the Civil War affected Americans across the divides of race, gender and nationality with added dimensions.

The SEMC Curators’ Committee and the National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME) are committed to promoting excellence and professionalism in museums within the region. The Exhibition Competition focuses attention on exhibitions of merit that are well designed, have educational value and treat objects with care and respect. The competition showcases the best in the profession and provides benchmarks for regional exhibition efforts in southeastern museums.

“This award is a testament to the creative vision, design ingenuity, and educational integrity of the Museum,” said SEMC Executive Director Susan Perry.

Powerful wartime artifacts and multi-media images and video create intimate moments of personal connection within the epic sweep of events such as Emancipation. Throughout the Museum, design elements featuring fragments of images are displayed in a disjointed collage-like presentation symbolizing the chaos of the nation.

Visitors can engage with innovative multi-media experiences in mini-theaters throughout the museum, capturing events such as a home frozen in mid-explosion during the Battle of First Manassas and an underground cave used for civilian shelter during the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Artifacts, such as a mourning dress, are woven into the media elements, integrating traditional museum constructs with cutting-edge technology.

“We designed the exhibits to create a more inclusive and authentic experience true to history and the people of the time but told in a way that would leave an impression on an audience accustomed to high-impact, visual storytelling,” said Solid Light Owner/President Cynthia Torp. “We are thrilled to see the Museum earn this recognition.”

"We wanted to create an experience that brings together the social, political and military narratives of the Civil War together. The exhibit's narrative reflects the lived experience of diverse people of the period- many of whom haven't traditionally been included. We are honored to receive the SEMC Exhibition Competition Silver award for A People's Contest," said American Civil War Museum CEO Christy Coleman.

The $4 million project marks Solid Light’s most recent collaboration with the Museum. Solid Light and ACWM are partnered on a new exhibition forthcoming next year.

To view images of the museum, click here.

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