PHMC Highlights presents stories and information about PHMC programs, events, exhibits and activities.

Following a rigorous peer evaluation, Ephrata Cloister, Lancaster County, has been reaccredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), Washington, D.C. AAM accreditation bestows national recognition on a museum or historic site “for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement.” Ephrata Cloister is one of only thirty-four institutions in Pennsylvania to earn this distinction. In a letter of congratulations to the historic site’s administrator, Elizabeth Rump, AAM’s President Ford W. Bell, wrote, “You demonstrate that you, your staff, and trustees are publicly committed to upholding and sustaining the highest standards and practices in the museum community. You are a leader in the field in providing the best possible museum services and experiences, reminding both your peers and the public exactly how much museums really matter to communities.”


At Birdsboro, the Daniel Boone Homestead’s Jeff Becker, building maintenance foreman, and Greg Apgar, maintenance repairman, work as a team addressing the 579-acre historic site’s operational needs, including its 1810 Bertolet sawmill, a water-powered, up-and-down sawmill still in operation. Becker, who has been at the site since 1981, is frequently seen during the mill’s operational days in July and August and during special events. Working at the homestead since 1996, Apgar shares duties, including operation of the sawmill, with Becker to maintain the facilities and equipment. Both explained the mill’s operation to visitors during Heritage Day on October 19, which featured demonstrations and presentations about traditional crafts and tasks of men, women, and children in the eighteenth century.


Librarian Paula Heiman has been the primary organizer of a “brown bag” noontime series for PHMC staff members. Attendees, eager to expand their knowledge, fill the library’s conference room for each presentation and, through video teleconferencing, employees at various PHMC historic sites and museums can enjoy the lectures without incurring travel expenses. The inaugural presentation, in September 2005, focused on an innovative Internet resource. Speakers and topics have included PHMC Executive Director Barbara Franco on the changing the rules of public engagement; Rhonda R. Newton, program coordinator for the Pennsylvania Heritage Society, on PHMC professional development programs for teachers; and Kurt W. Carr, PHMC’s senior curator of archaeology, on excavations at Fort Hunter, north of Harrisburg, in Dauphin County.


Joseph Horvath, educator at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, shared his cartooning skills with Karen Styers’ fifth grade class at Boalsburg Elementary School. Horvath, who began drawing single-and multi-panel cartoon adventures in grade school, discussed similarities between a cartoon adventure and developing a museum’s interpretive theme. He stressed conceptual development, or storyline, over artistic ability, and encouraged students to use this method in developing their skills at storytelling and creative writing. Horvath’s presentation included a storyboard rendering, drawn by Robert D. Bullock, chief of the Museum Exhibits Division serving PHMC’s Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums and the Bureau of The State Museum of Pennsylvania, to explain how a cartoon-like technique visualized a Military Museum gallery.


In September, the Somerset Historical Center held its 38th annual Mountain Craft Days, initiated in 1970 to preserve and interpret the region’s historic crafts and trades. Staff and volunteers coordinated more than one hundred booths and outdoor performance sites for crafts persons, demonstrators, and entertainers, which draw thousands of visitors each year. Carrie Blough, center curator, has demonstrated open hearth cooking during the event for eleven years. “I only use historic recipes, or ‘receipts’ . . . and historic ingredients,” she said. “It’s very enlightening to read the old receipts and try to understand the author’s instructions. It takes a lot of practice to prepare dishes over a hearth that are edible, but it is a lot of fun trying!”