Dunedin Historical Museum presents exhibit on Washington’s spies

The Dunedin Historical Museum presents “Turn; The Story of Washington Spies,” beginning Feb. 20.

DUNEDIN – Starting Tuesday, Feb. 20, following President’s Day, The Dunedin Historical Museum presents the AMC television production “Turn; The Story of Washington’s Spies.”

The exhibit will present costumes, artifacts, photographs and other material used on the actual television production portraying the story of a group of individuals whose heroic acts during the American Revolution helped General George Washington defeat the British and gain American Independence.

The exhibit is based on the 1986 novel “Washington’s Spies; The Story of America’s First Spy Ring,” by Alexander Rose. The television production is based on the story related to the Culper Spy Ring, whose members lived in Setauket, Long Island, during the British Occupation of New York and Long Island.

The museum exhibit takes the visitor from the naïve Nathan Hale who was captured as an American spy and executed, to the cunning Benjamin Tallmadge, who organized the ring in 1778, to the traitorous Benedict Arnold. The true story explains the background of the five men and two women who helped gather the information and travel their secrets through the British patrols that surrounded Long Island and New York. These seven individuals were composed of a farmer, a Quaker, a fisherman, barmaids and servants who were able to gather military secrets from the British and passed them on to Benjamin Tallmadge, who informed General Washington.

One of the interesting stories relates to the capture of Major John Andre, a British spy who was caught with the secret fortification information of the strategic fortress West Point on the Hudson River given to him by the traitorous Benedict Arnold, who had turned his back on his friend and commander George Washington.

When captured, Andre was wearing civilian clothes and was later found guilty and hanged as a spy. Benedict Arnold escaped to New York City and became a British officer to fight the Americans in the Carolinas. The story is told with the help of photographs and video from the production and actual historic material related to the real individuals involved in the Culper Ring. Visitors to the Museum will also see production costumes, battle material, paper goods, camp material, dinnerware, glassware and other props used for the show.

A children’s interactive corner is included with the exhibit that allows children and their parents to dress in colonial costumes, use decoding material to write secret messages, draw pictures of colonial soldiers and camp life, and practice writing The Declaration of Independence with a quill pen set.

A computer program also provides historic facts and paintings of the American Revolution to understand the importance of Washington and his armies to win the War for American Independence.

On President’s Day, Monday, Feb. 19, teachers and home-school teachers are invited to participate in a program which will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the museum with lunch being provided. This program will include a lecture by American Revolution historian, Jack Warren, and a program related to the American Revolution as a learning tool for students through history and art.

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m., at the Dunedin Public Library, museum director Vincent Luisi will give a special program on the True Story of the Culper Spy Ring.

The museum exhibit is open to the public on regular museum hours from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Teachers, with proper IDs, and veterans are admitted free for this exhibit. The admission fee is three dollars for adults and children under age 12 are free. The exhibit will remain at the museum until April 14.

The exhibit is partially sponsored by the Florida Department of the State, and the Division of Cultural Affairs.

For further information, contact the museum at 727-736-1176.