Concord Museum


Lantern hung from the Old North Church
on the night of Paul Revere’s ride.

  • Founded in 1886.
  • The Old North Church lantern reputed to have been used by sexton Robert Newman has a provenance that cannot be certified. But it has a tradition, going back to 1853, of being one of the lanterns he used.
  • While there is a unique display of Revolutionary Americana, the Museum is especially rich in 19th-century artifacts.
  • One of the period rooms is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s actual study; the one in the Emerson Memorial House, where Emerson lived, is a recreation.
  • The Museum has the world’s largest collection of possessions by Henry David Thoreau, including furnishings from his cabin at nearby Walden Pond.

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Recognized by curators, historians, and educators for more than a century, the Concord Museum displays Americana from the 17th through the 19th centuries.

The collection began around 1850 and was exhibited before the Civil War; only a handful of Americana collections can claim to be as old or as remarkably well-documented. It is especially strong in artifacts from Concord, with furnishings from Concord homes, including five period rooms and decorative arts. Its history galleries include Revolutionary War powder horns, muskets, cannonballs, and fifes.

There are also continually changing special exhibitions.

There is a symmetry between the folly of Burgoyne’s march south to Saratoga and that of Cornwallis’s march north to Yorktown. Military historians debate why Burgoyne risked marching south from Fort Edward in the same way that they question why Cornwallis advanced north beyond North Carolina into Virginia. Although Cornwallis had none of the outward vanity of Burgoyne, the two men were similar in that they were both junior generals and neither of them was commander in chief of the British army in America. Both blamed their subsequent failures on rigid orders and insufficient latitude. They both expected to march through predominantly friendly territory. They both ignored the chain of command and went over the heads of their superiors to communicate independently with Lord George Germain. They both allowed their supply lines to become overextended and their forces suffered harassment by enemy militia. They presided over the two most decisive defeats of the American Revolutionary War.

Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy
The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (2013)