Hushed voices, bells tolling and lapping waves — the sounds of the Continental Army’s overnight retreat surround you as you wander through the new exhibit The Battle of Brooklyn.
You will see holograms, peer through a window, step into a prison ship, and hear the crackle of a fire in a Brooklyn tavern.
Currently up, and running until January 8, 2017, the multimedia exhibit at the New-York Historical Society was inspired by the recent 240th anniversary of the battle. The exhibit lays out the who, why and where of events that led to the Continental Army loss to the overwhelming force of the British Army.
“On the surface it could be seen as a moment of defeat,” New-York Historical Society President and CEO Louise Mirrer said, “but this exhibition will show the resilience and strength of New Yorkers, who fought bravely and endured occupation of their city before finally becoming independent and free citizens.”
In addition to more than 100 objects on display, several interactive and atmospheric installations illustrate the events of August 1776. Included are a reproduction window from the Wyckoff-Bennett House, complete with soldiers’ names scratched into the glass, and a model of a small portion of a prison ship.
The complicated movements of the troops are depicted on a projection table combining modern video with a traditional diorama. The video dramatically shows the progress of the battle. When it ends, a small-scale model of the battle scene around the Vechte farmhouse (now Old Stone House) is revealed.
A “Then and Now” screen allows viewers to choose a Brooklyn site of importance in 1776 and view it in historic renderings and contemporary photographs.
A lighthearted note in the midst of the documentation of the devastating impact of the war is the performance of ‘The Battle of Brooklyn: A Farce of Two Acts.’ The performance piece combines an actual miniature set with hologram-projected actors performing the 18th century comedy.
In addition to the exhibit, the New-York Historical Society is hosting a series of public programs related to the story of the Battle of Brooklyn. More information can be found on their website.
[Photos by Susan De Vries]
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