Bunker Hill Museum Brings Historic Battle to Life
October 23, 2009 by Ben Edwards
With over 4,000 square feet of exhibit space, the Bunker Hill Museum (located just across from the monument itself) tells the story of the battle and monument in an absorbing and captivating fashion. The museum, open for just over two years, has become a popular destination for teachers making the journey over to Charlestown to see the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument. On the first floor of the museum, visitors learn about the history of Charlestown and the building of the monument through attractive displays and artifacts. The cornerstone was laid on June 17, 1825, the 50th anniversary of the battle, by honored guest Marquis de Lafayette. Senator Daniel Webster gave the address that day. From cornerstone to capstone, it took 17 years (1825-1842) to complete the project. The 221 foot high monument was dedicated on June 17, 1843 with Senator Daniel Webster again giving the oration, this time before a crowd of 100,000 people including President John Tyler.
The second floor of the museum is dedicated to the Battle of Bunker Hill which, as most of us know, was actually fought on Breed’s Hill – the site where the monument now stands. Here British troops numbering about 2,300 met colonial forces of around 1,200 commanded by Colonel William Prescott and Major General Israel Putnam. Outstanding interpretive displays designed by Wondercabinet set the stage for the battle, introduce British and patriot leaders, and take visitors through all three British assaults on colonial positions along the rail fence and earthen redoubt and breastworks. Patriot leader Doctor Joseph Warren was killed during the third assault. Above all of the displays on the second floor is a remarkable cyclorama (reproduction 19th century painting-in-the-round) showing the battle from every angle. You’ll also find artifacts including a British drum captured in the battle, and swords and cannon balls used in the fight. A better understanding of the battle is made possible through a diorama/scale model updated with an impressive sound track and light show. The Bunker Hill Museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm and admission is free.
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