To provide a broad perspective, we project onto a scaled-up 18th century map of eastern Massachusetts. Colors shift and shadows are cast as the sun rises and moves across the countryside. From our bird’s eye view, we see a lantern lit in Boston and watch what happens next – 24 hours of history told in 6 minutes. Troops move, alarm riders spread out, towns alight, smoke from muskets rises, and Provincial troops pour in to battle from across the region. Discrete text and infographics help viewers track the story and understand its significance, while a subtle audio track, built from sound effects heard as if from a distance, enhances the magic.
We use smaller videos, built from historic etchings and embedded within object displays, to highlight four key moments of action, from the battle at Lexington to the retreat of the British. Motion graphic treatments bring the visuals to life and draw attention to details: flames flickering from store houses, barrels of flour being tossed into water, etc. We pair these visuals with descriptive eye witness quotes. The treatment is subtle; the videos provide context for the artifacts while avoiding distraction from them.
To help the museum reach a broader audience, we created a dynamic, innovative web-based timeline of April 19, 1775. Shotheardroundworld.org combines elements of the gallery media, high-resolution photos of the objects, actor-read quotes, and little-known factual details. It engages users at their own pace, allowing them to track time, troop movements, and casualties, trigger animations of battle, listen to quotes, and examine “witness objects” up close. It’s a deep dive into content and an opportunity for the museum to share the story of this momentous day with people around the world.