This section of the website is dedicated to showcasing previous exhibitions here at the museum. The importance of the objects here at the museum cannot be understated; even when these incredible objects aren’t on display! This section will give insight on what was being displayed, the cultural and historical significance of the collection, and why the select objects were chosen.
“In an age of virtual reality, it is important to recognize the power of the real things and to understand how they shape our individual and collective identity.”- Viki Sand
The Real Thing and Why It Matters
The Real Thing and Why It Matters, was an exhibition from May 5, 2005 to January 2, 2006 that examined the contemporary relevance of historic artifacts. From the wampum belt given to William Penn by the Lenape people to a wooden water pipe excavated from underground chambers, The Real Thing presented 25 objects from the collection of the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent, including the Art and Artifact Collection of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. A wide spectrum of commentary from Philadelphia citizens provided insight into the importance and meaning of each object today and for future generations.
The Real Thing and Why It Matters, was divided into five sections: The real thing holds symbolic meaning, links past and present, piques curiosity and opens new insights, defines a sense of place, and shapes the future. Twenty-eight Philadelphians, representing diverse interests and backgrounds, provide their commentary on the meaning and significance of each object. The exhibition was supported by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the William Penn Foundation, the City of Philadelphia and trustees of The Philadelphia History Museum at The Atwater Kent.
The Real Thing was organized and curated by Dr. Cynthia Little, Philadelphia History Museum Historian and Exhibition Manager, along with Jeffrey Ray, Senior Curator and Susan Drinan, Registrar. Research assistance was provided by Dolores Pfeuffer-Scherer, Allen F. Davis Intern in Public History at Temple University. Keith Ragone of Assemblage, Inc. in Philadelphia provided the exhibition design.