Explore Gettysburg’s History in the Beyond the Battlefield Museum

An adult man and young boy in a Cub Scout uniform look at exhibits, including a gun, a top hat, portraits

A new museum in Gettysburg PA, Beyond the Battlefield, offers a comprehensive look into Adams County’s rich history. The museum’s exhibits stretch from the era of dinosaurs to significant moments like the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. But it also covers the region’s geology, original inhabitants, local agriculture. I found the exhibits on the Civil Rights movement and integration fascinating.

Housed in a new building equipped with advanced temperature and humidity controls, the museum preserves thousands of regional historical items. Many of these are displayed in the museum’s 12 interactive exhibit galleries. As you walk through the galleries, you begin to understand the region’s history “beyond just the battle.”

Since its grand opening on April 15, 2023, Beyond the Battlefield has received high praise, particularly for its emotional and realistic room simulation, Caught in the Crossfire. But more on that in a bit.

Learn more about Gettysburg “beyond the battlefield” by exploring these great things to see and do: Silvershire Farm Carriage Rides, picking apples at Hollabaugh Bros Farm and the Apple Harvest Festival!

Not Just Another Civil War Museum

The exhibits cover the region from the start of time to the present. You can view otherworldly rock formations, dinosaur tracks, and a real meteorite as you learn about the geological history of Adams County. Then you move into a gallery featuring local indigenous people, but soon move into exploring the dynamics between the Europeans settling the area and the native Americans. You’ll hear the gripping stories of murder, captivity, and colonial land disputes. I recommend taking time to watch the video about Mary Jemison and her life.

After the galleries specifically addressing the Civil War, you’ll learn how the battlefields surrounding Gettysburg came to be preserved and how a tourist industry was built up in Gettysburg. In addition, agriculture and its orchards have also made Gettysburg famous. Less famously, although just as important, you’ll learn more about Dwight Eisenhower and how he used his farm and home (now the Eisenhower National Historic Site) during the Cold War for diplomacy.

Beyond the Battlefield and the Civil War

This museum focuses on the human stories and personal experiences of soldiers and civilians during the Civil War. You won’t hear much about typical military strategy narratives.

In addition, the museum offers an understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg through the lens of those who experienced it. Letters, diaries, and photographs shed light on the daily lives, challenges, and sacrifices of individuals during this pivotal period. The museum’s approach humanizes the battle, offering insights into its emotional and social impacts on people and families.

For more about the civilian experience during the Battle of Gettysburg, check out The Gettysburg Heritage Museum and the Shriver House Museum.

The museum’s premier exhibit, Caught in the Crossfire, offers an immersive experience. Imagine being in a farmhouse during the battle! Hear the gun shots as they hit the house, blowing holes in the sides. Feel the cannon explosions as they strike nearby, rocking the foundation. Hear the screams and shouts of the chaos outside the house. This 5-minute immersive exhibit helps you understand the turmoil faced by families caught in the conflict. Those passionate about Civil War history should add this to their bucket list. This exhibit has been especially recommended for those passionate about history, providing a powerful insight into the civilian experience during the Civil War.

These offerings highlight the bravery, hardship, and resilience of the era, underlining the Civil War’s profound effects on American society.

Know Before You Go

Beyond the Battlefield Museum offers plentiful onsite parking. There is a small entrance fee. The facility is ADA-compliant and wheelchair accessible.

Getting there: 625 Biglerville Rd, Gettysburg, PA
Hours: daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed major holidays.
Website: Beyond the Battlefield Museum

Gettysburg has so much to see and do. Check out the articles below to find more great daytrip destinations: