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

On Thursday, October 17 [2002], Robert Pow­ell, president of the Historical Society of Carbondale, will present a talk entitled “The Delaware and Hudson Canal Com­pany’s Gravity Railroad” at the National Canal Museum in Easton. His lecture explores the construction, operation, and development of one of the country’s pioneer railroads – a major artery for the transportation of anthracite from north­eastern Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Val­ley. The railroad became internationally famous when, on August 8, 1829, its Stourbridge Lion was the first steam locomotive to operate on a commercial railroad line in the United States. The lecture will begin at 7:30 P.M. For more informa­tion, write: National Canal Museum, 30 Centre Sq., Easton, PA 18042-7743; tele­phone (610) 559-6613; or visit the National Canal Museum website. Free.


New works by contemporary artist James Turrell have been installed in a major exhibition recently unveiled by Pittsburgh’s Mat­tress Factory. James Turrell: Into the Light explores the artist’s lifelong investigation of light, space, and perception. It will remain on view through April 2003. To obtain additional information, write: Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, Pitts­burgh, PA 15212; tele­phone (412) 231-3169; or visit the Mat­tress Factory website. Admission.


Continuing through Sunday, Novem­ber 3 [2002], at the Lancaster Museum of Art is an exhibition entitled Masks From Around the World, which offers visitors a rare opportunity to view pieces drawn from an extensive private collection. The exhibition includes more than one hundred examples and related ceremonial pieces, ranging in size and purpose from an elegant Venetian mask that covers just the eyes and nose of its wearer to a monumental wood head carved in Guinea – weighing sixty pounds – supported by a dancer’s shoulders. To obtain additional details, write: Lancaster Museum of Art, 135 North Lime St., Lancaster, PA 17602; telephone (717) 394-3497; or visit the Lancaster Museum of Art website. Free.


A Brown Bag Tutt Talk on Tuesday, November 12, sponsored by the Historic Bethlehem Partnership, is entitled “Christmas Forever: How Victorian Bethlehem Celebrated.” (Tutt is Pennsylvania Ger­man for “brown paper bag.”) The lunchtime presentation, which begins at noon, will be held at the organization’s headquarters located in the historic 1869 Luckenbach Mill. Additional information may be obtained by writing: Historic Beth­lehem Partnership, 459 Old York Rd., Bethlehem, PA 18018; by telephoning (610) 867-0173; or by visiting the Historic Bethlehem Partnership website. Free.


As part of this year’s observance of Conrad Richter Days conducted by the Pinegrove Historical Society, biographer David Johnson will present a talk entitled “Conrad Richter in Hollywood” on Thursday, October 10 [2002]. Johnson’s book, Conrad Richter: A Writer’s Life, published by Penn State University Press in 2001, traces his subject’s life from birth in Pine Grove, Schuylkill County, in 1890 to his nomadic travels, to his return to his hometown, and to his death in nearby Pottsville in 1968. Richter’s works include The Sea of Grass (1937), The Trees (1940), The Light in the Forest (1953), and The Aristo­crat (1958). For The Town (1950), he received a Pulitzer Prize in 1951, and ten years later The Waters of Kronos (1960) won the 1961 National Book Award for fiction. The program will be held at 7 P.M. at the Pine Grove Theater, 213 South Tulpehocken Street. For more informa­tion, write: Pinegrove Historical Society, 205 North Tulpehocken St., P.O. Box 65, Pine Grove, PA 17963; or telephone (570) 345-0157. Free.


During the weekend of October 19-20 [2002], Meadowcroft Museum of Rural Life in Avella, Washington County, will host a celebration of western Pennsylvania’s rural heritage featuring corn shelling and grinding, flax scrutching, blacksmithing, cornhusk doll making, children’s games, apple butter making, and period entertainment. Administered by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, headquartered in Pittsburgh, the two hundred-acre outdoor museum contains the Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, which pro­vided shelter for hunters fifteen thou­sand years before the birth of William Penn (1644-1718). (In 1999, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission designated the Meadowcroft Rock Shelter a Commonwealth Treasure.) For more details, write: Meadow­croft Museum of Rural Life, 401 Meadowcroft Rd., Avella, PA 15312; telephone (724) 587-3412; or visit the Meadow­croft Museum of Rural Life website. Admission.


One of the most influential architectural design and planning firms of the last half-century, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Philadelphia, is the subject of a retro­spective exhibition opening Saturday, November 9, at the Heinz Architectural Center of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art. Out of the Ordinary: the Architec­ture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates will feature two hundred and fifty works, including drawings, models, photographs, videos, and furniture-many on public view for the first time. Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown have often been described as founders of “postmodern” architec­ture. Their books and buildings question the architectural status quo and have established new benchmarks for modern architecture with a strong sociological premise and engagement with historic tradition. Out of the Ordinary will contin­ue through January 12, 2003. For more information, write: Heinz Architectural Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080; telephone (412) 622-3131; or visit the Carnegie Museum of Art website. Admission.


Several hundred objects, artifacts, and photographs acquired recently by Eastern State Penitentiary National Historic Site in Philadelphia are being showcased in an exhibition entitled Building History: Recently Donated Objects and Images. Continuing through Sunday, November 10 [2002], Building History is installed at three loca­tions in the sprawling prison complex. To obtain more information, write: East­ern State Penitentiary National Historic Site, 2124 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19130-2603; telephone (215) 236-5111; or visit the East­ern State Penitentiary website. Admission.