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Mount Vernon’s Be Washington Experience Wins Global Design Award

MOUNT VERNON, VA—Mount Vernon’s interactive theater, Be Washington: It’s Your Turn to Lead, has received a merit award from the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD). This award honors design work that connects people to place by providing direction, content, and compelling experiences in public spaces. The Be Washington on-site experience is included with admission, and is also available for free online. For more details, please visit

“Mount Vernon and the Be Washington team are honored by this SEGD Merit award,” said Rob Shenk, Senior Vice President for Visitor Engagement at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.   “Our goal was to transport our players back into the world that George Washington inhabited.  Not only has great care and attention been paid to the Be Washington user interface, but also to all the physical and digital design elements that make you feel like you are in the presidential mansion in Philadelphia, the rough fields outside Pittsburgh, or the battlefields along the Delaware River.”

Be Washington invites visitors to step into Washington’s shoes and experience first-hand four historical scenarios that Washington faced as both general and president, deepening their understanding of Washington's leadership and the challenges he faced. The interactive theater, which opened in February 2018, features a 25-foot, 6K LED wall and 18 touchscreen desks that enable guests to interact with the films.

The SEGD jury noted “Live-action reenactments are an underrated and under-utilized interpretive tool in history museums, yet they are difficult to pull off tastefully—and without violating visitors’ suspension of disbelief. This project puts well-produced reenactments within an interpretive, gamified framework, challenging visitors to engage with historic characters that are immediate and real, and also engage with each other through a communal, multiplayer experience.”

George Washington's Mount Vernon partnered with Cortina Productions, the lead interactive producer, theater designer Gallagher and Associates, and Solomon Group, which helped design the AV systems and in fabricating the space. Funding for the project was provided by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, and The Hearst Foundation.

Be Washington also received the 2019 Thea Award of Outstanding Achievement in the museum experience, limited budget category from the Themed Entertainment Association, as well as top honors at the Southern Museum Conference Technology Competition in the media production category in 2018.


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