From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of people who took time to write letters of support for the programs at PHMC’s historic sites and museums throughout the Commonwealth that have been affected by budget cuts. It was especially heartening to see the hundreds more who attended community meetings to discuss the future of destinations along the Pennsylvania Trails of HistoryTM that faced closure. Thanks to your participation and support, we are moving forward with new ideas and new models for those sites that we are confident will ensure their preservation and accessibility for future generations of residents and visitors.

Tough economic times have forced us all to take stock of what is important to us and what we value enough to support. We have heard loud and clear from the people of Pennsylvania that their history is important to them and is something that they hold dear.

The historic sites and museums on our Trails of History are great places to reconnect with the basics — whether it’s growing and harvesting your own food or learning more about renewable energy sources. Opening Sunday, November 1, at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg is a special exhibition on wind power in Pennsylvania. The powerful photographic essay of riveting images by PHMC staff member Don Giles underscores PHMC’s annual theme for 2009, “Energy: Innovation and Impact.” As always, our historic sites and museums will be extending a warm welcome at special events for harvest and holidays that recall earlier eras and time-honored family traditions.

“Catch up with your past,” as our advertising campaign beckons, at events like Erntefest, a traditional Harmonist harvest festival at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Beaver County, on Saturday, September 26, or Harvest Days with the Pumpkin Patch at Landis Valley in Lancaster, on Saturday, October 10. During the holidays, enjoy events such as Christmas at the Cloister, conducted by Ephrata Cloister, Lancaster County, on Monday and Tuesday evenings, December 14–15, or witness the dramatic reenactment of General George Washington’s 1776 crossing of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing Historic Park in Bucks County on Friday, December 25.

The Holiday Marketplace, hosted by the Pennsylvania Heritage Society, will once again offer items for sale from selected PHMC museum shops, Radius at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and state agencies in the Commonwealth Keystone Building in Harrisburg on Thursday and Friday, November 19–20. This is a wonderful opportunity to sample some of Pennsylvania’s wide range of unique products for your holiday gift shopping convenience. As an added treat, the Pennsylvania State Bookstore is hosting “Charles Dickens,” who will give readings of his work during a noontime presentation on Friday entitled “Bah, Humbug!”

If you are unable to visit Holiday Marketplace, our online bookstore — offering more than six hundred titles on the Keystone State’s history, culture, and art — is a convenient way to purchase not only books, but also gift memberships to the Pennsylvania Heritage Society. All gift memberships include a one-year subscription to Pennsylvania Heritage. This year, give the gift of Pennsylvania history — it’s been more than three centuries in the making. It’s a gift that is timely and timeless!

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Pennsylvania Heritage Society extend best wishes for the holiday season to you and your family.

Barbara Franco
Executive Director, PHMC