Executive Director’s Message

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

I am delighted by the many innovative cooperative pro­grams in which the Pennsylva­nia Historical and Museum Commission has been able to participate recently. Certainly one of the most exciting ven­tures for us is the arrangement – approved by our Commissioners last September – through which the Friends of the Pennsylva­nia Historical and Museum Commission has become the publisher of Pennsylvania Heri­tage. With this transition, the Friends established a new “Heritage” membership cate­gory for all subscribers – at no additional cost!

On the surface, this new effort is not intended to bring about significant changes. The editing and production of our award-winning magazine remains the responsibility of the Commission staff, but the processing of subscriptions and related duties is handled by the Friends. Through the involvement of the Friends, we enjoy greater flexibility in contracting, hiring, purchasing and in conducting promotional and membership campaigns.

This new joint effort will un­doubtedly yield important results for both the organiza­tion and the magazine. While it is true that a “Heri­tage” membership offers the benefit of a magazine subscription only, current subscribers may elect to increase their Friends membership to a higher category. Individual and family memberships, for example, entitle members to receive Pennsylvania Heritage; the organization’s quarterly newsletter, Friendscript; dis­counts on all Commission books and publications; re­duced conference and work­shop registration fees; and a pass good for free and unlim­ited admission to the Com­monwealth’s twenty-seven historic sites and museums!

The benefit to the Friend­ – and therefore to the Commission – is remarkable. As the major citizen support group for the Commission, the statewide organization has enabled us to undertake spe­cial projects, acquire signifi­cant art works and artifacts for our growing collections, and sponsored special events throughout our sixty-seven counties. Without the support of the Friends, the Pennsylva­nia Historical and Museum Commission could not have acquired a collection of por­traits of Pennsylvania Railroad presidents, including a monu­mental likeness of Alexander J. Cassatt, who rebuilt the entire concern, by John Singer Sargent, considered by many to be one of the best portrait painters of all time. The Friends also purchased a large canvas by romantic painter Peter Frederick Rothermel, a native Pennsylvanian, which was exhibited at the 1876 Cen­tennial Exhibition in Philadel­phia. The acquisition was especially significant because the painting was actually the study for Rothermel’s narrative work, Kenilworth, already part of the collections of The State Museum. Through the Friends, both the preliminary and completed paintings were – after more than a century! – brought together again. More recently, the Friends coordinated the five­-city tour in Pennsylvania of “Magna Carta: The Roads to Liberty” to celebrate the bicen­tennial of the United States Constitution.

With a dedicated member­ship of more than two thou­sand (and still growing), the Friends of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com­mission has become one of the premier organizations of its kind in the country. The new collaboration between Pennsyl­vania Heritage and the Friends promises to expand member­ship and, in turn, support the programs and services of the Commission throughout Penn­sylvania. In extending our warm welcome to our new “Heritage” members, I am also inviting them to increase their membership category at the next opportunity. If you’re interested in learning more about the Friends, the ongoing programs or the additional membership benefits, please write me. And, please, con­sider yourself a Friend!

Brent D. Glass
Executive Director