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Why Concord?


Why Concord?, a six-gallery exhibition, explores the making of Concord as a particular community and as a New England and American symbol. The town of Concord, Massachusetts has played a significant part in the history of New England and the nation. Founded by English settlers in 1635, it was the first inland town in Massachusetts, an advanced outpost of Puritan civilization in an area occupied by Native Americans for centuries. Over a century later, as the site of the battle of April 19, 1775 between Minutemen and Redcoats at the North Bridge, Concord was the birthplace of the Revolutionary War. In the mid-nineteenth century, the community became the center of an intellectual revolution that remade American literature and thought. Concord was the site of Henry D. Thoreau’s experiment in independent living at Walden Pond and the base from which Ralph Waldo Emerson preached his philosophy of self-reliance. Thanks to these associations, Concord has assumed a special place in the American imagination.

Through a process of historical inquiry, Why Concord? examines the people, events, and ideas which shaped this influential community’s development. In the galleries, visitors of all ages learn about the principles of freedom, self-government, environmentalism, and our shared cultural heritage. “Establishing Concord,” “Defending Concord,” “Reforming Concord” and “Memorializing Concord” are the dynamic themes explored throughout the six galleries. Each of the galleries has its own distinct story to tell through rarely seen photographs, maps and documents, audio presentations, oral histories, creative hands-on activities and, most importantly, through the artifacts from the Museum’s renowned collection. This permanent exhibition serves as a gateway to the town through an engaging overview of Concord history.