Recommended for ages 7 and up
There are clues on the 1st, 2nd, and 4th floors. We recommend starting on the 4th floor and working your way down, but you and your family may choose to go in any order! Follow the directions to find the objects.
We remember the service of veterans past and present. Find hidden treasures and discover new facts about American soldiers by exploring New-York Historical’s galleries using this digital family guide.
Head to the 4th floor’s Henry Luce III’s North Gallery: Find the Nation at War case
Find a place to take a snooze—if you were a soldier that is!
Read the label. Which Continental Army general slept on this camp cot at Valley Forge in 1777?
Look closely. What is it made out of? What details do you notice about it?
While this cot may not look all that comfortable to us, it would have been one of the more luxurious sleeping arrangements at Valley Forge, just 20 miles from Philadelphia. General George Washington and the American patriots had to endure a very challenging winter at Valley Forge. When the 11,000 men set up camp, Washington ordered that they build huts and collect hay to use as beds. His hope was that the structures and straw would help keep his soldiers warm during the bitterly cold months.
Continue looking in the Nation at War case
The Badge of Military Merit was originally established by George Washington in 1782. It was a piece of purple cloth cut into the shape of a heart. Later the badge was renamed the Purple Heart Medal. It was also redesigned with an image Washington’s face is in the center of the heart.
- Read the label with your family. Who does the medal honor?
- Who received the medal displayed here?
- If you could redesign the purple heart medal today, who’s profile (portrait from the side) would you like to see on it? Why?
Extra! If you have paper and pencil with you, go ahead and sketch your new version of the purple heart medal. (Or snap a photo, and draw at home!)
Stay in Henry Luce III’s North Gallery
Find the largest painting in the room! Return of the 69th Regiment depicts the homecoming for soldiers after the American Civil War.
Look closely. What details or symbols tell you that there are soldiers returning home from war?
How would you describe the moods of the people in the painting?
Choose one person to focus on and strike a pose just like them. Share your photo on social media and make sure to tag us! @nyhistory
Now, read the label. The 69th Regiment was made up of soldiers mostly from New York. Many of them were immigrants. What country did they emigrate from? What else did you learn from the label?
Head to the 2nd floor: Find the Dreaming Together exhibition
Find Johannes Oertel’s painting shown above. On July 9, 1776, a group of Continental soldiers listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Do you know what the document says? Why is it important to American history?
The soldiers were so excited by the Declaration of Independence that they joined other patriotic New Yorkers to pull down the statue of King George III, the British king. Why do you think they wanted to remove the statue?
Look closely at the painting. Can you find a soldier? Who else can you find?
Create a living tableau of the painting with your family. Each member of your family should choose one person in the painting. Then, pose together like the group of people in the painting. Be sure to look carefully at facial expressions and body language. Snap a picture before you break your pose! Share your photo on social media and make sure to tag us! @nyhistory
Head to the 1st floor via the main staircase: Find the We the People installation on the way
Find the large installation hanging in the stairway between the 1st and 2nd floors. Read the words out loud with your family. These are the first three words of a very important United States document. Do you know what document it is? You got it! These are the first words of the preamble of the United States Constitution.
Read the preamble to the U.S. Constitution as a family:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
American soldiers help to “insure domestic Tranquility” and “provide for the common defense” of our country. Why are the first three words “we the people” significant? How do you think they could have different meanings to different groups of people? For example, for veterans vs. regular citizens?
Look closely. What is the artwork made out of? Read the label to learn more about where the materials came from.
Extra! If you have paper and pencil with you, design your own “We the People” sculpture. Consider what materials, shapes, and colors will best represent the meaning of these important words to you and your family. (Or snap a photo, and draw at home!)
Continue down the stairs to the 1st floor: Find the painting pictured below in Richard Gilder and Lois Chiles Hall
The American flag is often considered a great symbol of American patriotism and a source of pride for many veterans. On Veterans Day, we place flags on fallen soldiers’ graves and wave them outside of our homes.
Look closely. How many flags can you count in this painting?
Many Americans have different feelings and interpretations of the flag’s meaning. In your own words, describe what the American flag symbolizes for you and your family?
After you have visited all these stops, take a few minutes to sit with your family and talk about Veterans Day.
Why do we honor those that have served our country in the Armed Forces? Do you have any veterans in your family or community? What do you know about their service, or what want would you like to ask them about their service?
Want to use more themed family galley guides? Choose from these options.