The Revolutionary War “Crossing of the Dan” exhibit at the South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History will officially open on Saturday following the virtual 240th commemoration of the Crossing of the Dan.
The 10 a.m. Zoom event will feature a ribbon cutting for the exhibit lead by Paul Smith, president of the museum.
The museum also will be open to the general public from noon until 3 p.m. on Saturday to view the new exhibit. Masks are required, and social distancing is expected.
For those who would like to watch the virtual commemoration beforehand and who registered for the event by Monday should receive a Zoom meeting number and password on Thursday to watch the event online.
“This new exhibit has been more than a year in the planning and implementing and is now complete. We are very proud to have the ‘Crossing of the Dan’ exhibit here at the museum as its new permanent home,” said Smith.
He added, “Once you see the exhibit, we feel confident you will agree that the exhibit will serve the museum and the community well by promoting this historical event that helped to solidify the American colonies’ resolve for independence and freedom.”
According to the book, “The Race to the Dan – The Retreat That Rescued the American Revolution” by Larry G. Aaron, historian Douglass Powell noticed the upper level of The Prizery would be an ideal spot for the exhibit after noticing a window had “the perfect view of Boyd’s ferry site.”
As stated in the book, “That ferry site, along with Irwin’s ferry four miles upstream, was used by Nathanael Greene’s army as his men escaped the clutches of Cornwallis’ veteran British troops in the Race to the Dan during the winter of 1781.”
Powell, also a board member of the Halifax County Historical Society, began promoting the idea, and through the leadership of historical society president Barbara Bass, the society worked to make his idea become a reality.
Work on the exhibit began in 2004, and the historical society began raising funds. Over the years, its been used for educational opportunities and for the commemoration of The Crossing of the Dan.
Over the past year, it was decided a move was necessary to increase the exhibit’s public visibility and increase visitor access, and the society assisted financially in the move.
“It will be the same exhibit that people have come to know and love but with a fresher, more modern design,” Jennifer Bryant, president of the South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts & History and designer of the updated exhibit said in the fall. “A couple of pieces of the exhibit will be rearranged for a more comfortable flow.”
Bryant said they used 3D printing to create a replica of what they would like the exhibit to look like and began working with contractors and volunteers.
Along with moving the Crossing of the Dan exhibit, staff also worked to move the Gov. William Munford Tuck exhibit to the area that used to house the Military History of Halifax County exhibit.
Repainting the walls of the museum, relocating the museum’s multimedia equipment and expanding the genealogy history and research center also were part of the renovation project.
Some renovations were delayed by several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bryant noted.
But now that it’s all in place, she’s excited for the public to witness it.
She also noted that another exhibit, the booming 1950s, would be available to the public when they reopen.