By the spring, visitors to Fort Ligonier will be able enjoy a new education center, a renovated museum with new exhibits and other restoration work.
The first of three phases in the “Fortifying Our Future” campaign for long-term improvements at the site is underway. Construction for the Fort Ligonier Center for History Education, which will help staff accommodate field trips, group tours and lecturers for special events, has begun, said Julie Donovan, director of marketing and public relations.
The $3.65 million project will include nearly 10,000 square feet for theater and classroom space to expand programs and activities and provide opportunities to host workshops, symposiums and events for educators, scholars, re-enactors and the general public.
The center will be connected to the existing Fort Ligonier museum, which also will undergo major renovations.
For the 50-year-old French and Indian War museum, work will include the redesign of galleries and exhibits for improved visitor traffic flow, new paintings and exhibits, video and audio tour enhancements, a redesigned museum store, an elevator and other electrical upgrades.
Although artwork of George Washington is scattered throughout the museum, Donovan said the renovations will include the creation of a Washington gallery.
The reconstructed/restored 256-yearold British fort will be fortified with critical restoration work, including the replacement of the fort’s East Bastion, multimedia technology and interpretive signage.
“The goal is to enhance the visitor experience,” Donovan said.
When the fort closes for the season on Oct. 25, renovations of the museum will begin.
Although some work will still be in progress when the fort reopens in the spring, all three phases of the project should be completed by September 2017, she said.
“Our goal is to instill a love for history, exploration and Fort Ligonier for many years to come,” she said. “The addition of the new Fort Ligonier Center for History Education, museum renovation and restoration work that is taking place within the fort will inspire history buffs, scholars, students and families to learn more about 18th century colonial life.”
No tours, special events or summer camps will be interrupted by the project, Donovan pointed out, including a visit from Juniata College students Aug. 2-11.
For the second year in a row, students will participate in archaeological excavation activities at the fort, with this year’s focus on locating and documenting an artillery battery that covered the eastern approach to Fort Ligonier during the French and Indian War.
Last year, Juniata College students uncovered a copper livestock bell, the mouthpiece of a French horn, several hook-and-eye fasteners from British uniforms and numerous lead balls.