Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya Robert C. Wilburn, president of the Gettysburg useum Foundation, announced conservation plans.

President of the Gettysburg Battlefield Museum Foundation Robert C. Wilburn highlighted new conservation and preservation plans for the Gettysburg National Military Park in ICC Auditorium on Wednesday at the fourth annual Casey-McIlvane Lecture, part of a series sponsored by the Georgetown University Library Associates.

“Gettysburg is the best summation in national history of the meaning and preservation of history,” Wilburn said. “It’s a symbol of reconciliation. It’s where the revolution was saved. It defined what beliefs we believed to be self-evident. It’s a reminder that we can rise over even the most terrible divisions.”

According to Wilburn, over 1.8 million people visit the park each year. The current state of the park’s facilities, however, is not adequate to meet the objective of education, commemoration and preservation of Gettysburg.

The park’s museum is out of date and structurally incapable of conforming to current standards for the storage, care and exhibition of artifacts and archives, Wilburn said, and the park’s visitor center was built decades ago as a private residence and cannot appropriately handle the large volume of people.

In collaboration with the National Park Service, the Gettysburg Battlefield Museum Foundation will construct a new museum and visitor center at the Gettysburg National Park designed not only to provide proper conservation conditions for the park’s collection of archives and artifacts, but will also provide more thorough information and guidance for large numbers of visitors. The new museum and visitor center will be located on a site that saw no major battle action and will not be visible from most locations within the park.

“We want to excite and inspire visitors,” Wilburn said. “We want them excited about their past and inspired to know more.”

In addition to the new buildings, the National Park Service will also work to restore the 6,000-acre battlefield as well as the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. Due to extensive deterioration while housed in the Cyclorama Center, the popular Cyclorama painting entitled “The Battle of Gettysburg,” will be moved to a new gallery equipped with the proper conditions required to preserve the painting.

In addition to detailing preservation plans for Gettysburg, Wilburn also described conservation work completed in his past involvement with building restoration in Colonial Williamsburg and at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In summarizing the significance of preservation, Wilburn cited the powerful effect of history in society.

“Nothing’s more relevant than understanding how far we’ve come, how far we need to go and what our roles are,” Wilburn said.

Though open to all members of the Georgetown community, the lecture was attended mainly by Georgetown alumni and members of the Georgetown University Library Associates. According to University Librarian Artemis Kirk, the purpose of the lecture series is to highlight the intellectual aspects of not only the collections in the library, but the library itself through continuous stimulation of ideas. Many who attended this speech were intrigued by the subject.

“I thought it was very informative,” Anita McPherson (GRD ’00). “I grew up in Gettysburg and I’ve seen it evolve. It’s nice to see that it’s moving in the right direction, towards a real memorial.”

Prior to joining the Gettysburg Battlefield Museum Foundation, Wilburn served as president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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