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GETTYSBURG WAX MUSEUM SELLING HISTORICAL FIGURES



Getysburg Wax Museum


BY MARK SCOLFORO

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A life-sized animatronic Abe Lincoln is among the historical figures and tableau scenes from a Gettysburg wax museum set to hit the auction block just months after the town celebrated the 150th anniversary of his "Gettysburg Address."

The has occupied a prime spot near the center of the battlefield for more than half a century. But it recently underwent an extensive renovation and wants to take a new approach to history. As part of those changes, it is preparing to unload dozens of its historical figures - most made of vinyl, not wax - in what the auctioneer calls a once-in-a-lifetime sale.

The March 15 auction will also feature diorama contents, tapestries, furniture and books. The items include soldiers, a Southern plantation scene and the Lincoln-Douglas debates' stop in 1858 at Knox College. Also for sale is an enormous reproduction of Gilbert Stuart's 1796 portrait of George Washington, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

When the wax museum reopens later this year as the Gettysburg Heritage Center, its focus will have shifted to the experience of town residents before, during and after the July 1863 battle between the Confederates under Gen. Robert E. Lee and the federal troops commanded by Gen. George Gordon Meade.

"The Park Service does a fabulous job of telling the story about the battle," said Tammy Myers, who runs the facility for FutureStake Inc. "We don't all need to be telling the same story."

The company estimates 9 million people have walked through the wax museum since it opened in 1962, shortly before the centennial of the battle.

While much of what those visitors saw will be auctioned off, the plan is to preserve the scene from Pickett's Charge depicted inside the theater but revamp the presentation that accompanies it. Myers said there are also plans to repurpose a few of the life-sized figures for a new exhibit on the Underground Railroad.

The business changed hands about seven months ago and closed down two months ago for the construction project, which gutted most of the building's interior. The new attraction will have more interactive activities for children, including short videos about 19th-century life in Gettysburg, a thriving transportation hub with three weekly newspapers and gas streetlights.

Among the many businesses that serve the Gettysburg tourism trade, some have been taking a look at their operations these days, now that the 150th anniversary of the battle and Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" has passed, said Carl Whitehill with Destination Gettysburg.

The wax museum has been a mainstay of the central Pennsylvania town's tourist trek for decades, Whitehill said.

"It's a place that our visitors have become quite familiar with," Whitehill said. "It was certainly due for change. It's quite an anchor there, on one of our busiest streets."

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Pat March 11 2014 at 6:40 AM

My family visited the museum in 1963-64, when I was a kid. I will always remember the diorama. I can still see it in my mind. Actually, I think it is a shame that they will no longer be telling the story. The owners don't realize what a long term effect that it had on people who viewed the history.

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lbreamer Pat March 11 2014 at 8:43 AM

I have to agree with you - It's a shame that they're planning to bust up something that's worked so well for so long. Add in new elements, certainly - technology has advanced, we all know. But why not keep the older more important elements along with the new?

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tmyers1288 Pat March 11 2014 at 9:47 PM

If you're referring to the big diorama of Pickett's Charge, it will remain for now but with a new movie. The major renovation and change of story line will take place in the area where the five halls of wax exhibits were on display.
Trust me a lot of time and thought has been put into making the change. Over the summer customers were surveyed. If you get to Gettysburg, please give the new facility a chance

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carl March 11 2014 at 7:29 AM

"A new approach to history". Does that mean a rewrite?

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lbreamer carl March 11 2014 at 8:41 AM

Oh, almost certainly!! That would be the ONLY reason for "updating" exhibits.

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monroes87 March 11 2014 at 7:50 AM

don't you think they would put the link in for the auction, "come on man"

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woody4952 March 11 2014 at 6:09 AM

witch one is alfrado garcia?

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hollywooddood March 11 2014 at 8:42 AM

them heads alive or dead?

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The Canoli King March 11 2014 at 9:04 AM

Is Tammy dating Manny Quinn?

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