As President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address encompassed the emotions of the American struggle, The National Civil War Museum portrays this struggle as a time line, from the issues straining the nation through the war's conclusion at Appomattox Court House. Nowhere can you find a better understanding of the Civil War, its effect on the nation, or on the people. Come walk our halls. See and feel the emotions rise and fall as you embrace Bull Run, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Antietam, and Gettysburg; once ordinary places transformed to hallowed ground within a few hours.
The National Civil War Museum incorporates collections of artifacts, manuscripts, documents, photographs, and other printed matter that exceed 24,000 items. Although many items have been donated to The National Civil War Museum since its opening, the vast majority of its collections were acquired by the City of Harrisburg between 1994 and 1999 under the auspices of Mayor Stephen R. Reed.
Three-dimensional objects (artifacts) comprise about 3,500 items, of which one-fourth (850 items) are on display in the permanent galleries of the building. The balance is held in secure storage for future exhibits and for scholarly research, the latter reserved for Museum members and by appointment only.
Because The National Civil War Museum's mission encompasses the period from 1850 through 1876, its' collections vary widely in scope and years of manufacture. For the pre-War period, collections include artifacts that reflect on the nature of sectional controversies and, in particular, slavery. The four actual years of War incorporate items from the civilian as well as the military venues of the conflict. Our emphasis is on "the human side" of the conflict. We exhibit and collect materials on the common soldiers, men and women on the home front, and the experiences of African Americans. The military artifacts encompass all aspects of soldiers' experiences: from the personal equipage and weaponry of the War, to wounds, disease, prisoner-of-war experiences, and the emotional drain of the conflict. Whenever possible, emphasis has been placed on obtaining artifacts that are identified to specific combatants of the War and, according to availability, the prominent personalities of the war. Post-War artifacts primarily reflect the impact of the War on western expansion.
The National Civil War Museum continues to look for selective items to fill and enhance its displays and research collections. Please consider sharing your collection or artifacts from your ancestor's contributions to the Union or the Confederacy. Help us develop and enhance The National Civil War Museum and our collections. If you are looking for a safe and secure "home" for Civil War or related objects that may be in your possession, please think of us and consider the advantages of donating your object(s) to The National Civil War Museum.