John James Audubon, Squire of Mill Grove and Genius of Art and Science

In Pennsylvania, a beautiful state … , my father, in his desire to prove my friend through life, gave me what Americans call a beautiful “planta­tion,” refreshed during the summer heat by the waters of the Schuylkill River, and traversed by a creek named Perkioming. Its fine woodlands, its extensive acres, its fields crowned with evergreens, offered many subjects to my pencil....
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The Value of Pennsylvania History

George W. Bush won the presidential election of 2000 because the fifty states cast more electoral votes for him, even though more people actually voted for his opponent, Albert A. Gore Jr. The election reminded Americans about a curious institution called the Electoral College, and an equally peculiar system known as federalism in which each state conducts elections according to distinct laws...
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Current and Coming

Mammoth Scale Sometime about 1808, renowned Philadelphia physician Caspar Wistar (1761-1818) – for whom the city’s Wistar Institute is named – asked sculptor William Rush (1756-1833) to create a series of large-scale anatomical models. Rush, known chiefly as a maker of civic statuary and ships’ figureheads, responded with the strangest works of his career: a massive inner...
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Current and Coming

Jimmy Stewart Upon his death at the age of eighty-­nine, James Maitland Stewart (1908-1997) – Jimmy Stewart to adoring fans throughout the world – was described by Washington Post staff writer Bart Barnes as “a motion picture Olympian with an all-American image and a universal appeal whose roles as a movie actor helped define a national culture.” During his career, he...
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Two Hundred Years and Counting – The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Two centuries ago, on Thursday, Decem­ber 26, 1805, seventy-one individuals gathered at the State House (now Independence Hall) to formally establish an art institution for Philadelphia. Meetings throughout the summer had led to the drafting of a charter, formation of a board of directors, and the collection of funds for a building. By the day after Christmas, a professional calligraph­er had...
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Current and Coming

Titanic Science When launched in 1912, he was the grandest, most luxurious moving object ever built, and few stories in history have captured the world’s imagination like hers. The saga of the RMS Ti­tanic actually began five years earlier, in 1907, at a dinner party at Downshire House, the residence of Lord James Pirrie in the fashionable Belgravia section of London. A guest of Lord...
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A Centennial, A Celebration, A Cache of Treasures

While Philadelphians in 1905 observed the centennial of the nation’s first art museum and school, the venerable Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pittsburghers flocked to Harry Davis’s Nickelodeon, the first motion picture theater opened in the United States. In Harrisburg that year, on Tuesday, March 28, Governor Samuel W. Penny­packer (1843-1916) signed legislation creating...
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Losing the Way by Horace Pippin at State Museum of Pennsylvania

A native and resident of West Chester, Chester County, Horace Pippin (1888–1946) was a self-taught artist who rose from poverty to become one of the nation’s most important African American artists, even though he is known to have created less than 150 works of art. He was severely wounded during World War I and lost much of the use of his right arm. Nevertheless, after the war and despite his...
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