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New Digital Experience Gives Visitors a Chance to “Be Washington”

Posted on | January 8, 2018 | No Comments

 Cutting-Edge Interactive Experience Puts You into the Boots of General or President Washington

MOUNT VERNON, VA— George Washington’s Mount Vernon will introduce a new first-person interactive experience titled “Be Washington: It’s Your Turn to Lead” in its Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center on February 12, 2018. Through this special new $3 million offering, visitors will have a chance to put themselves in Washington’s boots and experience first-hand the leadership challenges that he faced on the battlefield and in the presidency.

“It’s never been more important, especially to younger generations, that we allow our guests to be a part of the story,” said Rob Shenk, senior vice president for visitor engagement at Mount Vernon, who led the team that developed this experience. “Allowing our guests to be Washington, and to directly confront the challenging issues that he faced, will undoubtedly give them a deeper appreciation for why Washington is rightfully considered the essential leader of the founding era.”

Inside the immersive 1,200-square-foot Be Washington theater, participants will take the role of George Washington as they seek to solve one of four crises that Washington faced – two from the American Revolution and two from his presidency.  Each scenario will unfold upon a massive 30-foot 6K resolution screen. As they learn about the situation, participants will be able to hear insights and opinions from some of the same historical advisers that Washington would have had access to, such as Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Knox.  As they sift through differing recommendations, they will be asked to rate each adviser’s persuasiveness.  In the end, as Washington, the participants will vote for which course of action they would take to solve the crisis.  All votes are then tabulated and shared, in aggregate, on the main screen.

Chris Jackson, the actor who played George Washington in the Broadway hit “Hamilton”, will introduce each of the scenarios onscreen and will later describe the course of action that General or President Washington took. Featured scenarios include the Battle of Second Trenton, the Whiskey Rebellion, the Genet Affair, and the Newburgh Conspiracy.

Be Washington took more than 20 months to plan, film, code, and construct. Generous funding for this project was provided by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Mount Vernon worked with a select group of award-winning partners to produce Be Washington. Solomon Group and Gallagher and Associates worked with Mount Vernon on the theater design and fabrication.  Cortina Productions developed the interactive gameplay and produced the footage that makes up the four scenarios.  Wide Awake Films provided some of the exciting live action sequences for the Second Trenton scenario.

Admission to Be Washington is included in general admission. Facilitated group sessions, perfect for school groups or as part of our leadership programs, are available by appointment. A web-version of “Be Washington” will be available for individual or classroom use in Spring 2018.

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