With the completion of a total interior renovation, including all new building systems, the Philadelphia History Museum is unveiling the redesigned galleries that will showcase its outstanding collection of historical objects, art, and artifacts in a newly designed, properly equipped and controlled environment. An opening weekend is planned for Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., when the public is invited to see the new exhibitions for free.
“A great deal of energy, time, and resource went into renovating this historic 1826 building, and now it all pays off as residents, tourists and visitors will enjoy and delight in seeing new, handsomely designed galleries to showcase this Museum’s outstanding collection of art, artifacts, and historical objects that comprise Philadelphia’s material culture. The new Philadelphia History Museum tells the story of this incomparable city in a progressive and contemporary manner,” stated Charles Croce, the Museum’s Executive Director and CEO.
With eight newly renovated galleries to explore, visitors will encounter and interact with over 400 items from the Museum’s vast holdings of over 100,000 objects. Four new exhibitions have been installed to complement two exhibition galleries opened earlier this year as part of a phased-reopening plan.
All of the new exhibitions will feature interactive elements to enhance the visitor experience. Gallery technology includes the use of multiple iPads and monitors providing label copy and information on each object, video segments to augment and expand stories about exhibitions focused on Philadelphia’s manufacturing and sports history, and an opportunity for visitors to submit their digital self-portrait for possible inclusion in an exhibition or on the Museum’s website.
Comprised of over 100 objects, The Ordinary, the Extraordinary, and the Unknown exhibition will feature a broad array of objects and artifacts spanning 330 years of Philadelphia history. Ranging from William Penn’s shaving bowl, snuffbox, and the iconic wampum belt (c. 1683) received from the Lenape people, to the desk used by George Washington when Philadelphia served as the country’s capital (1790-1800), to John Brown’s musket (c. 1850), General George G. Meade’s presentation sword (1864), and Joe Frazier’s boxing gloves from a 1970 championship fight, objects used by both the well-known and the ordinary Philadelphian will be displayed in three gallery spaces.
A second exhibition, Face to Facebook, explores portraits and how Philadelphians have pictured themselves from the 17th through the 21st centuries. Twenty-five portraits by artists such as Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Sully, Gilbert Stuart, and Benjamin West are on view, along with daguerreotypes, vintage photographs, and early camera equipment.
Made in Philadelphia—a changing gallery space focusing on the city’s significant role in craftsmanship and manufacturing—opens with “Craft Brewing,” a look at Philadelphia’s brewing history since the days of William Penn through the resurgence of microbreweries in the 20th century. Another changing exhibition space, Played in Philadelphia, is devoted to the city’s history across several cultural genres including theater, music, performing arts, film broadcast, electronic media, and professional and amateur sports. “Phillies Fandemonium,” the opening exhibition, looks at America’s favorite pastime through the eyes of Philadelphia Phillies fans in photos and video interview footage. The installation includes Jimmy Rollins’ 2008 World Series jersey, seats from Veterans Stadium, and vintage baseball memorabilia and souvenirs.
Since opening a new reception lobby and two exhibition galleries in mid-February, over 7,000 visitors have viewed City Stories, an introduction to Philadelphia’s 330-year history, and Philadelphia Voices, a changing exhibition space dedicated to community history. Currently highlighting the Mural Arts Program with an installation entitled Family Interrupted/Community Connected, the gallery will feature a wide variety of groups and organizations that have contributed to the city’s history.
The redesigned entrance lobby is outfitted with informational panels and materials, a video monitor with current exhibition and program schedule, a kiosk containing selected merchandise for sale, and an area for visitors to store their books, bags, and other belongings while visiting the Museum. The centerpiece of the lobby is a dramatic circular admissions and information desk made of 1820 Eastern cedar cladding reclaimed and repurposed from the recent renovation of the Independence Hall tower.
Beginning Tuesday, September 25, the Museum’s new public hours will be Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Admission fees are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for students and teens (13-18), and children 12 and under admitted free. A special family pack for four (2 adults, 2 teens) is available for $20. Members are always admitted free.
For more information about the Philadelphia History Museum, its exhibitions, programs, and membership options, visit www.philadelphiahistory.orgor call 215-685-4830.
About the Philadelphia History Museum:
The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent was founded by City Ordinance in 1938 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution in Philadelphia. Its 1826 building at 15 South 7th Street was designed by John Haviland as the original home of the Franklin Institute. The Museum provides historical context for issues of contemporary urban life using its premier collection of over 100,000 objects, paintings, and photographs in exhibitions, programs, and electronic media. The Museum is a not-for-profit educational institution governed by a Board of Trustees and supported by the City of Philadelphia, federal and state agencies, private foundations, and individual contributions. For additional information, visit www.philadelphiahistory.orgor call 215.685.4830.
Mary-Anne Smith Harris
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