New 360-degree virtual tour of groundbreaking special exhibit now available

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, June 20, 2024

New 360-degree virtual tour of groundbreaking special exhibit now available
Visitors can touch replica sailcloths. Photo: MoAR.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- With a newly launched virtual tour, people from across the globe can now experience a 360-degree walkthrough of the Museum of the American Revolution’s groundbreaking current special exhibition, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia. The virtual tour can be found here. It is free and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

The virtual tour explores the Black Founders special exhibit, on view at the Museum through Nov. 26, 2023, which brings to the life and legacy of James Forten, a free Black Philadelphian who came of age during the Revolution and used his wartime experience to forge himself into a successful businessowner, philanthropist, and changemaker. Using objects, documents, and immersive environments, the exhibit explores how Forten and his family became leaders in the efforts to abolish slavery and gain equal civil rights for all Americans.

In the Black Founders virtual tour, users can click through the exhibit in the immersive 360-degree environment or jump to specific displays. They also can click on cases to read the labels and zoom in on intricate object details. The tour features an accompanying audio guide, narrated by Director of Education and Community Engagement Adrienne Whaley, which is integrated throughout the tour to facilitate deeper dives into the exhibit’s highlights. Transcripts of each audio stop are also available.

“We are thrilled that this incredible new resource will allow people around the world to experience this powerful story firsthand,” says Matthew Skic, Curator of Exhibitions at the Museum. “We hope that it serves as a valuable resource for those interested in exploring to the story of James Forten and his remarkable family, who worked tirelessly to ensure that all people could enjoy the Revolution’s promises of liberty, equality, and a role in their own governance.”

The virtual tour features more than 100 historical artifacts, works of art, and documents, including historical objects on loan from descendants of the Forten family on view for the very first time in a public exhibit. Highlights include a historic Bible (circa 1838) owned by the Forten family, that was recently donated to the Museum by Atwood “Kip” Forten Jacobs, James Forten’s great-great-great-great-grandson; two needlework samplers (1817 and 1822) stitched by James Forten’s daughters, Margaretta and Mary Forten, which have now been in the possession of seven generations of the family; a pew (1805-1841) from Mother Bethel AME Church; and the only surviving photograph of James Forten’s wife Charlotte Vandine Forten taken in Philadelphia in the 1860s, on loan from the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University.

The tour also incorporates multimedia elements found in Black Founders, including a listening station featuring a selection of music by Black composer and musician Francis Johnson. These historically informed recordings replicate what Johnson’s music might have sounded like in the homes, concert halls, and streets of Philadelphia during Johnson’s – and James Forten’s – lifetime.

The Black Founders virtual tour features a robust selection of teacher resources for using the virtual tour in the classroom. Resources include modular activities and worksheets, access to primary sources, framing essays, a glossary, and more.

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