Gettysburg museum to close, auction its Civil War artifacts
Officials say the Soldiers National Museum will close its doors at the end of the day Nov. 2 and an auction of museum materials will be held Nov. 21-22, days after the 151st anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.
“The museum has been around for a very long time, but the visitors at Gettysburg are looking for something a little bit different today,” said Matt Felty, president of Gettysburg Tours Inc., which owns the museum and several other attractions in the area.
The museum, established in 1959, reportedly attracted as many as 400,000 visitors a day in the 1960s, but Felty said the annual visitation now averages only about 15,000. Even during last year’s 150th battle anniversary, the number of visitors was only “about steady,” he said.
“This museum concept has lived its useful life,” he said. “Visitors want a more hands-on, tech-heavy experience. We don’t really have that here.”
Making the museum competitive with nearby attractions, such as the 6-year-old Gettysburg National Military Park Museum Visitor Center, the year-old Seminary Ridge Museum at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Heritage Center, would require an investment “well into six figures,” he said.
The museum contains Civil War artifacts, a collection of rare toy soldiers from various eras and associated artifacts, a life-size nighttime Confederate encampment scene with lighting accompanied by an audio track, Civil War-related mannequins, and several handmade dioramas.
Felty declined to estimate how much the collection is worth.
“I think anything Gettysburg- or Civil War-related will generate a lot of interest,” he said.
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