Welcome to the Exhibition

"Key to Liberty" examines the events that took place in the northern theatre of war between 1775 and 1777. It also looks at the fate of the historic shipwrecks, including the last missing gunboat from the American Revolution, discovered in 1997.

This exhibition follows the development of the sixteen ships of the American fleet from construction through their launching into battle. It provides insight into the lives of the people who built and sailed with the fleets that clashed on Lake Champlain in 1776, particularly, the then well-respected Benedict Arnold, naval commander of the American fleet. The centerpiece of the exhibit is model of the gunboat Philadelphia. The a fully detailed 1:6 scale model, accurate down to the bricks in the hearth and nails in the vessel's planks, allows you to observe and consider the construction and working parts of the ship. Other models in the exhibit include the British radeau Thunderer and the row galley Washington. A video dramatization, incorporating eyewitness accounts from historic documents, maps, prints, and paintings tell the story of the Battle of Valcour Island.

The final portion of the exhibit focuses on the emerging science of nautical archeaology and the evolving public awareness of responsibility for historic preservation. A video presentation, "A Tale of Three Gunboats," documents the raising of Philadelphia in 1935, the construction and sea trials of Philadelphia II in 1989-91, and the 1997 discovery of the missing gunboat during the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's sonar survey of the lake.



Continue to next section

All images courtesy Shadows and Light Design. Used with permission.