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Montgomery County Department of Parks reveals schematic designs of new museum
Officials of the Montgomery County Department of Parks have revealed the schematic designs of a new museum at North Bethesda’s Josiah Henson park in the US, which will bring alive the story of Rev. Josiah Henson whose autobiography inspired the landmark novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Formerly called the Riley Farm/Uncle Tom's Cabin Special Park, the new museum would be located at the site of a former plantation where Rev. Josiah Henson lived and worked as a slave from 1795 to 1830.
The plans include a rehabilitation of the historic Riley/Bolten house, which served as the main farmhouse on the plantation of the brothers George and Isaac Riley between 1800 and 1850. The plans also include a new visitor centre, including a multimedia theatre, on property bordering the historic site and numerous outdoor exhibits.
The architects and designers of the museum have envisioned interactive exhibits for the space, which will celebrate the challenging and inspiring life of Rev. Josiah Henson, who inspired the fictional character ‘Uncle Tom.’ It will also educate visitors about the enslavement of African-Americans in Maryland and promote a greater appreciation of history in this county.
The planned multimedia theatre could accommodate 60 where visitors would be introduced to Henson’s life with a six to eight minute film. Visitors then would be taken outside through an interactive “portal,” which is designed to be reminiscent of slave quarters that may have once stood at the site.
The plans also include more outdoor exhibits for visitors before they reach the Riley/Bolten House. Designers have envisioned a timeline telling the story of Henson’s life, graphics and interactive displays, with cases showing archaeological evidence uncovered at the site, several editions of Stowe’s seminal work, and an 8-to-10-foot book representing Henson’s autobiography.
The schematic designs represent about 30% of design work for the site. A master plan for the site was approved in December 2010, while designs are expected to be complete before a Montgomery County Planning Board hearing in June 2013. Construction funds for the project will be secured through capital improvements plan for fiscal years 2015-20.
The Josiah Henson Park is a 1.43 acre historic park property located at 11420 Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda, Maryland. It consists of a small portion of the original Riley plantation where Reverend Josiah Henson lived and worked as a slave. Henson’s 1849 autobiography inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's landmark novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin.
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