Museums and Properties

News presents briefs about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.

Institute Slated at Pennsylvania Farm Museum

The Annual Institute of Pennsylvania Rural Life and Culture will be held June 24 to 27 [1975] at the Pennsylvania Farm Museum near Lancaster.

This year’s theme, “Our Rural Heritage” will be developed through the following seminars: Eastern Pennsylvania Architecture, Prospectus on the Eighteenth Century Ephrata Communal Society, Pennsylvania Antiques – 1975 Edition, The Golden Era of Railroads, The Loyalists’ Attitude Toward the American Revolution and Quaker Culture in Pennsylvania.

Techniques of early American craftsmanship will be in­troduced through the listed workshops: Techniques of Making Bobbin Lace, Traditional Calligraphy, Theorem Painting on Velvet, Ryestraw Basketry, Traditional Tinsmithing and Traditional Blacksmithing.

Special events will include a report on June 24 [1975]; a musical performance by George Button, folk singer, a “country dinner” served in the Steam Engine Building; a Pennsylvania German dinner with music by the Heidelburg Polka Band; a discussion by Harry L. Rinker entitled, “You Rusty Canaller, You’ll Never Get Rich.”

The Institute is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Landis Valley Associates.


Curtin Mansion Opened

The Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission opened the Roland Curtin Mansion at Curtin April 29 [1975]. The Mansion is located approximately seven miles southeast of Bellefonte.

Built circa 1830 by Roland Curtin, ironmaster, the Mansion is a stately two and one-half story structure. Seven generations of Curtin’s descendants resided there until 1951.

Roland Curtin, whose father was Andrew Gregg Curtin, Civil War governor of Pennsylvania, was an ardent supporter of President Abraham Lincoln and the Union cause.

The mansion was the focal point of activity for Eagle Furnace and the village that emerged around it. Almost 10,000 acres of timber and farmland helped to support the ironmaking enterprise. From 1817 to approximately 1917, the Bellefonte area of Centre County was an important ironmaking center, and the furnace was one of eleven in the area.

Although the mansion has undergone extensive restoration, work remains to be done on the site, and furnishings have not been totally completed.

Visitors can view the mansion from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; it will be closed Mondays.


Special Doll Exhibit

A special doll exhibit opened April 26 [1975] at the William Penn Memorial Museum. The dolls, made of unusual material, reflect the pioneer spirit of America.


Mobile Museum Schedule

  • June 28 and 29, 1975: Old Mill Village – Milford, Susquehanna County. Opening of Restored School House.
  • July 12 and 13, 1975: Ft. LeBeouf – Waterford Heritage – Erie County.
  • July 23 and 26, 1975: Women’s Club Street Fair – Media, Delaware County.
  • August 8 and 9, 1975: Punxsutawney Quasqui-Centennial and Groundhog Celebration – Jefferson County.

After its return from Jefferson County, the unit will be in Harrisburg for an exhibit change to commemorate the Bicentennial. The Mobile Museum is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.


Railroad Museum Opens

Over 36,000 persons have visited the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, located at Strasburg, Lancaster County, since its opening by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission April 22 [1975]. One is immediately struck by the magnitude of the museum.

Built at a cost of 1.8 million dollars, the Railroad Museum is the newest museum under the PHMC’s administration.

Located at Strasburg, eleven miles east of Lancaster City on State Route 741, the museum is expected to be open from May to October on a daily basis. Winter hours will be announced later. Admission charge will be fifty cents far adults; children accompanied by adults will be admitted free. Senior citizens also are admitted free to historic sites and properties operated by the PHMC. Museum hours until October will be 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sundays. The museum is located opposite the Strasburg Railroad, known for its scenic ride to Paradise behind the steam locomotives.

Visitors are, however, viewing a museum undergoing preparation. Many exhibits and displays still are being in­ stalled.

Some of the nation’s outstanding steam railroad memorabilia are displayed. They include railroad items from an engine of the type and vintage washed away in the Johnstown Flood. An extensive collection of historic engines and rolling stock is exhibited.

George M. Hart is the museum’s director. Other personnel come in part from PHMC employes located at the William Penn Memorial Museum. Also assisting in developing the facility are personnel provided by the Lancaster County Commissioners through a federally funded public jobs program.

During the first day of its opening, Hart said more than half of the registered visitors were from out-of-state. In that first day, fourteen states were represented; the most distant visitors signing the register were from Oregon and California.


Best Film Series

The Best Film Series is held each Saturday and Sunday [in 1975] at the William Penn Memorial Museum. The films, which begin at 2:00 p.m., include such classics as “Hamlet,” “The Covered Wagon” and “The Birth of a Nation.”

In addition to the Best Films Series on weekends, the Museum sponsors free films each Wednesday, beginning at 12:10 p.m. in the Museum Auditorium. These include classic comedies such as those featuring Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Mack Sennett and Buster Keaton.


Slovak Festival Held

The Slovak Festival opened April 27 [1975] at the William Penn Memorial Museum. Paintings, cut glass, ceramics, textiles, woodcraft and literature of the Slovak people are on display until June 30 [1975]. Most of the objects shown come from families in the Slovak communities of Harrisburg and Middle­town, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, Danville and Shamokin.


State Fish Commission Exhibits

Five types of trout highlighted the April Fish Commission exhibit in the William Penn Memorial Museum. The exhibit included (1) Brook trout, (2) Brown trout, (3) Rainbow trout, (4) Palomino trout and (5) Albino trout.

In conjunction with staff members of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, persons who coordin­ated the exhibit were Ralph W. Abele, executive director, Pennsylvania Fish Commission; Steven Ulsh, education and training officer, PFC; Edward Miller, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Engineering, PFC; and R. H. Ross of the Bureau of Fisheries and Engineering. Abele and Ulsh have offices at the PFC, 3532 Walnut Street, Harrisburg; Miller and Ross are located with the PFC at Route 1, Bellefonte.

A variety of tropical fish was also displayed in the William Penn Memorial Museum during April. Ronald Proctor, presi­dent of the Susquehanna Aquarium Society, 4223 Union Deposit Road, Harrisburg coordinated the exhibit with PHMC staff.