Museum of the American Revolution observes Pride with book launch and more

Front of the museum of the American Revolution.
The Museum of the American Revolution. (Photo: Jason Villemez)

In observance of Pride, on June 6, the Museum of the American Revolution hosted the launch of gay historian Dr. John Gilbert McCurdy’s new book “Vicious and Immoral: Homosexuality, the American Revolution, and the Trials of Robert Newburgh.”

McCurdy’s appearance was part of the museum’s ongoing Read the Revolution Speaker Series, hosted by the museum’s CEO, Dr. R. Scott Stephenson. Special Programs Director Hannah Boettcher said she learned of the imminent publication of McCurdy’s book and saw that it would be a good subject for the Read the Revolution series, as well as an excellent fit for Pride Month.

“We’ve been doing the Read the Revolution series since the Museum opened in 2017,” Boettcher explained. “It’s my job to plan the speaker series, and I only get so many slots a year…It’s a real honor to be able to launch it here. When we asked him, John McCurdy said he’d do the book launch here. He was familiar with the museum and its mission. And it’s a really compelling subject.”

Boettcher continued, “What is great about having something like this scheduled is that we get to learn from our audience, in this case the LGBT community. We’ve had the opportunity to engage with the community in our neighborhood and on staff.” 

The result of those conversations are plans for the museum to collaborate with community members and organizations on future events.

Boettcher is encouraged by the community’s response to McCurdy’s appearance. Attendance at the launch, in person and via Zoom, was well over 100. 

“It’s been really great that since the pandemic, we have had more Zoom access to our events. That, and online opportunities like Instagram, allow us to access a wider audience. All seven years we’ve been open, we’ve had all sorts of experiments with events.” 

She admits that some of those experiments have not been well-attended, but, she says, “That’s the nature of experimentation.”

It’s notable that not all of Museum of American Revolution’s LGBTQ-themed events and exhibits take place during Pride Month.

According to Tyler Putman, senior manager of gallery interpretation, “Sometimes we’ve done programming not in Pride Month that highlights those voices. This is a great month to highlight LGBTQ voices, but we also want to make sure that a variety of voices are heard throughout the year — Black voices, women’s voices, queer voices. We try to communicate to people that Revolutionary history is more complicated, more diverse than they know.”

In addition to the McCurdy book launch, the museum is observing Pride by presenting a new exhibit by out Philadelphia artist John Y Wind, through June 30, titled “Whiskey Rebellion.” According to museum’s press release, Wind’s work transforms hand-painted, ceramic decanters of key figures from the American Revolution that were produced by the Jim Beam Distilling Company and their competitors for the Bicentennial. Wind’s decontextualized works explore issues of masculinity, heroism, diversity and the very notion of commemoration through a 21st century lens.

For more information on the Museum of the American Revolution, visit

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