At several important sites in the U.S., history comes to life with interactive, visitor-directed experiences that reveal the achievements and everyday life of Colonial settlers and our Founding Fathers. These dynamic sites promote hands-on learning and help foster teamwork and collaboration. 
 
Inspiring and Educational 
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Benjamin Franklin Museum, the highly sequenced spaces of the original, circa-1976 museum have been transformed into a series of virtual rooms representing Franklin’s house. Visitors flow freely through the galleries, which feature a variety of personal artifacts, computer animations, and interactive displays. Children can try playing Franklin’s musical invention, the glass armonica, and enjoy a variety of activities and games. Museum-goers can also weigh in on Franklin’s stance on slavery, apply his ideas on community improvements, and examine his many inventions.  
In addition to all-new exhibit areas, improvements include a new entry pavilion and enhanced areas for visitor services. A new view window overlooks the famed “ghost structures”—white metal frames that outline the volume of Franklin’s home and print shop. QEA worked closely with the National Park Service and exhibit designer CassonMann to modernize the museum.  
 
The Science of History 
In Stafford County, Virginia, the story of another Founding Father can be explored at Ferry Farm, George Washington’s boyhood home. The master plan for this 77-acre National Historic Landmark, set along the Rappahannock River, envisions engaging visitors through three levels of historic theater: George Washington’s youth, daily life in Colonial America, and the site’s role as a ferry crossing during the Civil War.  
 
Implementation of the plan’s first phase will develop the essential infrastructure to establish Ferry Farm as a historic destination, including siting the original house. Phase two will focus on the landscape, environment, and connections to the surrounding community, and a new visitor center. While archeology and site restoration continue, visitors can explore the property today with the George Washington Foundation’s self-guided iPad tours, providing videos, photos, and in-depth details about the farm.  
 
Active Participation 
Tryon Palace is a 22-acre property set along the Trent River in New Bern, North Carolina. The site includes a reconstruction of the circa-1770 mansion that once served as the Colonial capitol of North Carolina, and several additional historic buildings. The master plan developed an orchestrated visitor experience for the site, beginning with the new North Carolina History Center located on waterfront property—a brownfield site which was remediated as part of the project. The 50,000-square-foot facility serves as an orientation center, museum, and classroom/learning center and features hands-on interpretive exhibits designed by Edward Schlossberg, visitor services, an auditorium, theaters, a café, and collection support.  
 
Visitors, including many school groups, begin at the history center, where hands-on activities and team projects include sailing and quilting, and then explore the waterfront site. Redevelopment of the industrial property also completed the missing link of the city’s riverwalk and created an interpretive natural habitat with information on the region’s history.