Why should New York City get to have all the Alexander Hamilton fun?
Yes, the Big Apple is where the influential Founding Father lived and worked for some of his life, where he died and is buried, and where the immensely popular Broadway hit Hamilton: An American Musical debuted.
But a new exhibit at the Museum of the American Revolution makes the argument that Hamilton wouldn’t have been the same person without his experiences in Philadelphia — and neither would the country.
HAMILTON WAS HERE FAST FACTS
- Hamilton Was Here is open through March 17, 2019 at the Museum of the American Revolution.
- The exhibit highlights Hamilton’s achievements and formative experiences in Philly.
- Visitors can load a replica cannon, dress up in reproduction 1790s clothing and more.
- Special events, author talks and walking tours go down during the museum’s Year of Hamilton.
Hamilton Was Here: Rising Up in Revolutionary Philadelphia, on view now through March 17, 2019, highlights Hamilton’s time in the Philly area from the Revolution through the first years of the fledgling nation.
The family-oriented exhibit offers visitors a chance to trace Hamilton’s infamy and achievements — duels to debt, artillery to the Articles of Confederation — via interactive activities, informative displays, interesting artifacts and special events during the museum’s self-proclaimed Year of Hamilton.
Exhibition Overview and Highlights
Hamilton Was Here interprets six formative Philly-centric parts of Hamilton’s life: his military service during the Revolutionary War; his first experience with a duel; his work advocating for the U.S. Constitution; his role advising President George Washington; his time as Secretary of the Treasury; and his involvement in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion.
The exhibit shines a detailed light on Hamilton’s Philadelphia experiences, many of which took place in the Historic District at sites just a short walk from the museum. As a congressman and a member of the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton worked at Independence Hall (though, as the exhibit points, the building had not yet gained its now-famous steeple and clock.) As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton helped found the First Bank of the United States, which still stands (now as office space for the National Parks Service) across the street from the museum. Hamilton even rode out via Market Street with President Washington to help quash 1794’s Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania.
The exhibit details some lesser-known experiences that took place in the area as well. Visitors might be aware of Hamilton’s death in a duel in New York in 1804, but they may not know that his first involvement in a duel took place in what’s now Port Richmond in 1778. And like other Founding Fathers, Hamilton partied at City Tavern at Second and Walnut streets during his years in Philly. (Visitors can, too, though the building is a 1970s reconstruction.)
Throughout, interactive experiences aid with hands-on learning. Visitors can tackle the 11-step process of loading and firing a massive replica cannon. (Hamilton captained an artillery company in the war.) Both children and adults can dress up in reproduction 1790s clothing and learn the proper steps for appropriately greeting President Washington. And budding creatives can try to design a coin for the new nation using pre-cut felt pieces.
The museum’s core exhibition also features nearly 30 Hamilton-related artifacts — on loan from Philadelphia and New York institutions — during the exhibit, including letters written by Hamilton from the winter encampment at Valley Forge, portraits of Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and more. And in the museum lobby, life-size statues depict Hamilton and Aaron Burr during their fateful 1804 duel.
Hamilton Was Here kicks off the Year of Hamilton, the Museum of the American Revolution’s special programming that encompasses events, author talks and walking tours.
This fall and winter, museum visitors can try their hand at shopping in Revolutionary Philadelphia and learn about the evolution of national currency (November 23-25) and watch a seamstress create a gown like the one Eliza Schuyler would have worn in the 18th century (December 29-30).
Walking tours include an educator-led 60-minute tour of Hamilton’s Philadelphia (Saturdays at 4 p.m.) and a lantern-lit tour about Hamilton’s career-damaging affair with Maria Reynolds, which took place right here in Philly (4:30-5:30 p.m. on the first Friday of the month).
Entry to Hamilton Was Here is free with general admission to the museum, which runs $19 for adults; $17 for seniors, students, military and teachers; $12 for youth (6-17) and free for children under 5 and members.
Note that on weekday mornings, access to the exhibit is reserved solely for school groups. General admission to the exhibit is available weekdays from 1-5 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Those looking for a double dose of Hamilton — and who isn’t? — can snag a deal in the form of a joint ticket with the National Constitution Center, currently exhibiting its Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation exhibit through December 31, 2019. The joint ticket is $29 for adults (a $4.50 savings), $19 for youths (a $4 savings) and $90 for a family pack (a $22 savings).
Lastly, the heavily anticipated Philly-area performances of Hamilton: An American Musical go down at Forrest Theatre from August 27 to November 17, 2019. Stay tuned for more info on how to get tickets.
Don’t miss the chance to learn the local history behind this popular Founding Father at Philly’s newest museum this fall and winter!