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

“The State Museum of Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s preeminent institutions of its kind.”

So concluded a report prepared as part of the national museum accreditation program conducted by the American Association of Museums (AAM). The State Museum of Pennsylvania first received accreditation in 1987, and the recent study confirmed that “in virtually every area the museum is in full compliance with and exceeds the current standards and practices in the museum profession.” Such accreditation is an honor given to less than nine hundred of the nation’s more than twelve thousand museums.

For nearly three hundred thousand visitors each year, the museum offers a fascinating and informed perspective on the diversity of Pennsylvania’s cultural heritage and natural resources. Some of the permanent exhibits have been favorites for decades. Mammal Hall, the Carboniferous Forest, the Civil War battle paintings of Peter F. Rothermel, and the Lenape Village are among the most popular. Planetarium shows, archaeology workshops, Winter Whimsies, and museum summer camps are just several of the programs that attract a loyal and expanding following each year.

What is equally significant about the development of the museum since the last accreditation study are many new features, including a fine arts gallery, Dino Lab, annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit, expanded gift shop, and attractive signage. A distance learning studio enables museum staff to present interactive programs with more than one hundred and fifty school districts throughout the Commonwealth. Innovative programs such as the Night of the Great Pumpkin and tours to historic sites and museums are regularly sponsored by the Friends of The State Museum. This membership organization also provides critical financial support for special exhibits and educational programming.

The pride we share in earning national recognition is matched by our determination to continually improve the museum. Over the next five years, the facility’s major systems will be replaced or repaired. Additional space for collections and curatorial offices will be allocated in the Keystone Building, under construction on the east side of the museum plaza. The inaugural exhibit of the long-awaited History Galleries – “Pennsylvanians At Work” – will open in 2001, followed by exhibits on recreation and the landscape.

As the centennial of the museum approaches in 2005, we envision a new sense of energy and purpose. The museum is the steward of nearly two million objects and artifacts. It has emerged as an educational and community center and a destination for tourists. Clearly, it is fulfilling its role as “one of the nation’s preeminent institutions of its kind.”

Brent D. Glass
Executive Director