New fundraiser to help upgrade the National Civil War Museum

Digital Originals

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg opened in 2001. Visitors saw elaborate gallery exhibitions, with audio and video presentations presented through state-of-the-art electronics.

“And it really is the equipment that controls all of the lighting, all the sound, all the video that you experience as you go through the galleries,” Jeffrey Nichols, the Chief Executive Officer of the Museum, said.

But 20 years later, the electronics are showing their age.

“It’s not reliable,” Nichols said. “The system is getting old and needs to be rebooted from time to time, and certain things work and other cases don’t.”

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Nichols says they actually considered scouring online sites for replacement components but decided replacing 20-year-old parts with other 20-year-old parts wouldn’t be worth the time, effort, or money.

“It’s certainly at the end of its life cycle,” Nichols said. “So that’s the main reason we need to replace it.”

The museum’s been raising funds for a replacement system for the last six months. The price tag for the project? $163,000.

“And we have about half the money in place right now,” Nichols said.

The museum just announced a special fundraising push.

“Two of our board members and two of our sponsors, supporting members, came up with a challenge, a $26,000 challenge. They will match every gift we receive up to $26,000 one to one. So that way, your dollar releases another dollar. And it helps us to achieve our goal.”

The new system will be more reliable.

It will also be simpler to operate. Nichols says among the technical advances is an app to allow museum staff to adjust the new audio-video system from their cell phones, without having to physically access the electronics. Between the fundraising and grant moneys, Nichols says the new system should be up and running next year.

“It consolidates a lot of equipment into a smaller unit, we all know as technology gets better, those units get smaller,” Nichols said. “So instead of having separate units for lights and video, it’s now an integrated unit.”

“As we replace the system, it will bring everything back online. So the experience will be even better when you come to the National Civil War Museum.”

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