Museum Recognizes Nation's First and Sixteenth Presidents: Washington’s Desk and Pocket Watch and Lincoln Life Mask now on view, February 15, Press Release

The Philadelphia History Museum honors two of the nation’s presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, by featuring iconic objects from its collection— Washington’s desk and pocket watch, both dating from 1789, and a rarely seen life mask of Lincoln from 1886.  These historic objects are now on view at the Museum.
Between 1790 and 1797, Washington’s desk stood in the President’s House, then located at the corner of what is now 6th and Market streets.  Made of mahogany veneer and ebony and maple inlays, the desk measures 62 ¾ inches high, 32 ¼ inches deep, and 66 ¼ inches wide.  At the conclusion of Washington’s presidency, the desk was privately sold, but remained in Philadelphia for over 200 years.   His pocket watch, made in Paris and constructed of gold and glass, was worn while he resided here.
Lincoln’s life mask, cast from the 1860 original by American sculptor Leonard W. Volk, dates from 1886.  At the time, the artist recalled that Lincoln had difficulty removing the plaster, so he “bent his head low and took hold of the mold and gradually worked it off without breaking or injury.”  The life mask will be on view through March. 
Over 400 objects and artifacts, spanning 330 years of Philadelphia’s past and present, are currently on view in the recently reopened historic building located just steps from Independence Mall.  The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $6 for teens.  Children under 12 are admitted free, as are active members of the military.  For more information on programs and exhibitions, visit  

About the Philadelphia Histroy Museum
Reopened to the public in September 2012 with the completion of a total interior renovation, including all new building systems, the Philadelphia History Museum unveiled redesigned galleries to showcase its outstanding collection of historical objects, art, and artifacts. The Museum, founded by City Ordinance in 1938 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution in Philadelphia, is housed in an historic 1826 building at 15 South 7th Street, 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 interactive media.