Puts visitors in the founding father’s shoes

MOUNT VERNON, VA.—George Washington, the father of the U.S., faced many difficult decisions on the battlefield and as the first president to make the country what it is today; but what would you do when faced with the same challenges? “Be Washington: It’s Your Turn to Lead” is an upcoming first-person interactive experience that allows visitors to Mount Vernon to do just that.

Housed inside an immersive 1,200-square-foot theater, “Be Washington” allows participants to take on the role of Washington and deal with four crises he faced. Each scenario is played out on a 30-foot 6K resolution screen, with insights provided by historical advisers like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox. Guests will rank each advisers’ persuasiveness and vote on the course of action they would take; votes and then tabulated and shared, in aggregate, on the main screen. How Washington acted will be revealed later.

Scenarios that are part of the experience include the Battle of Second Trenton, the Whiskey Rebellion, the Genet Affair and the Newburgh Conspiracy. Chris Jackson, who portrayed George Washington in the original Broadway production of “Hamilton,” will introduce each scenario onscreen and describe Washington’s choice of action.

“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 development team for “Be Washington.” “Allowing our guests to be Washington, and to directly confront the challenging issues he faced, will undoubtedly give them a deeper appreciation for why Washington is rightfully considered the essential leader of the founding era.”

“Be Washington” will open on Feb. 12 and be located in the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center. Admission to the experience is included in general admission. Facilitated group sessions, including school groups, 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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