Completion of Lost Museum Announced

Together with longtime collaborators at the CUNY Graduate Center’s American Social History Project, CHNM is happy to announce the completion of The Lost Museum: Exploring Antebellum American Life and Culture. This innovative, interactive website re-creates P. T. Barnum�s American Museum, mid-nineteenth century America’s pre-eminent popular cultural institution, on the night before its fiery demise in July, 1865. A unique learning resource that combines immersive experience with historical narrative and documentation, The Lost Museum’s cornucopia of diverse attractions highlight the major compromises and conflicts of the antebellum and Civil War eras in U.S. history.

Produced primarily at the American Social History Project (ASHP), The Lost Museum offers a 3-D spatial exploration of four re-created museum rooms containing over 160 interactive artifacts and attractions; a searchable archive of more than 300 primary documents; and 22 teaching resources geared to diverse classroom settings. These features allow contemporary virtual visitors to experience the fascinating intricacy of nineteenth-century exhibitions and to embark on a search for clues to solve the fictional mystery of who (among social and political groups in the period) may have burned down the building in July 1865. Teachers can choose among classroom activities and other resources suitable for high school and college U.S. history courses.

Eight years in the making, The Lost Museum combines extensive research and writing with detailed 3-D modeling, database programming, and moving image presentation. The site has received awards from the Archivists Roundtable of New York (“most innovative application of archives to the Internet”), Horizon Interactive (Honorable Mention, Education/Training Web site), and Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival (Platinum Award, New Media). Production of the site was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Old York Foundation, and the CUNY Graduate Center’s New Media Lab.

Archives by Year:


Since 1994, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has used digital media and computer technology to democratize history—to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past. We sponsor more than two dozen digital history projects and offer free tools and resources for historians. Learn More

Featured Project is the central online location for accessing high-quality resources in K-12 U.S. history education. Explore the highlighted content on our homepage or visit individual sections for additional materials.