Making its way across the nation with stops in California, Minnesota and Utah to name just a few, the American Independence Museum’s Traveling Trunk program recently made its way back from Massachusetts.

“The traveling trunk made our American Revolution unit much more engaging and dynamic,” said Mike Ryan, teacher at Pollard Middle School in Needham, Massachusetts.

Expected to travel more than 25,000 miles throughout the United States in 2019, the Traveling Trunk program is presented by Service Credit Union.

“We believe in the program, because it provides important insight into the formation of our nation,” said Service Credit Union’s Wendy Beswick. “This is hands-on learning at its best.”

Featuring 70+ high quality replica items and colonial history curriculum to engage students of varying ages, the program reflects an emerging focus at the American Independence Museum on creating “an institution without walls.”

“If we cannot get people to the museum, we want to bring it to them,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “Our partnership with Service Credit Union has provided us with the resources to expand the program and the educational branch of our mission.”

Noting he used nearly every object in the trunk in his classroom, Ryan said the program provided him with pedagogical flexibility.

“The copies of the Declaration of Independence were used so that each partnership was able to have their own,” he said. “I only have 4 facsimiles, so it was great that these additions allowed each student to have the document in front of them.”

He said the included uniforms were “fantastic.”

“Students used these throughout our unit and greatly appreciated them,” he added.

According to Beswick, such experiential learning programs are critical today, as many schools struggle with shrinking budgets.

“We are very pleased to be part of the program, which is expanding far beyond what any of us could have expected,” she said. “We believe an appreciation and understanding of American history is very important.”

In addition to continued financial support from Service Credit Union, the Traveling Trunk program was made possible with initial seed funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Founded in 1991 in downtown Exeter, the American Independence Museum features more than 3,000 items in its collection, including one of only 26 surviving copies of the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence.