Portraying historic perspectives

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Pund, Daniel
Mounayar, Michel
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Thesis (B. Arch.)
College of Architecture and Planning
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In order to test this thesis a museum about the American Civil War will be created. This museum will portray the historical perspectives of the Union and Confederate sides through the entire war. These perspectives will be shown through many lenses, including political, military, civilians, and individual soldiers. Displays would tell of the events from all these lenses so that as you read about various battles you get a glimpse into how those who fought in it felt from the generals, down to the privates. This focus on the individual will try to bring down the scale of the war to something that visitors could better interact with and relate to. This museum will be a single building with the galleries laid out chronologically, so that visitors can understand how the war progressed. This layout will also allow visitors to understand the cause of an individual battle, or political decision, the effects of that event, and how that went on to cause further events. It will start with a united gallery discussing prewar events, and society which will give context to the rest of the galleries. Once the war begins the galleries will split so that the Union and Confederacy have separate spaces discussing the entirety of the war from the perspective of each side. This separation is also a literal depiction of the separation of the country during the war. After the war ends the galleries will again combine and end in a gallery discussing post war, and reconstruction. In addition to these main war galleries there are also four individual galleries which focus on the perspectives of groups whose stories sometimes are overshadowed, and unsung when speaking about the civil war. The first of these are Freedmen\The Enslaved whose story is central to the Civil War. The next is Native Americans who themselves were divided by this conflict with fighting between, and within tribes over which side to support. Next are women whose roles were diverse, from mothers caring for their children as their husbands’ fight, to gravediggers when the war rolled through their community, to nurses, and even secret soldiers. Finally is foreign perspectives whose influence could have greatly affected the war. There are many essential and circumstantial architectural aspects that this project would need to incorporate. The first is location, this project will be located on one of the borders that split the two sides so that neither side will be emphasized based on location. Historical building styles will be used to tie the architecture to the subject. The Union half of the building will be inspired by Federal style, the Confederate half will be inspired by Greek Revival. These styles will only be used on the exterior, with the interior being a contemporary design. Experiential aspects of the galleries will be an important part of the galleries and will be done in several ways. Accent lighting will be used to provide hierarchy in the space and draw visitors to displays. The color palate for the gallery spaces will be dark in order to provide contrast between the building and displays. Historic perspectives are one of the most important aspects to understand when learning history. By looking at events through the lenses of the people who lived them people today can gain a more holistic understanding of history, with more nuance than what is typically taught. The American Civil War is one of the defining points in our nation’s history, and still has a huge impact on our lives today. The Civil War is also one of the most contentious points in our history, which is still passionately debated. By providing a place for people to gain greater understanding of the conflict this thesis may help to heal old wounds.