Trailheads presents information and details about the exhibits, events and programs hosted by the historic sites and museums on PHMC's Pennsylvania Trails of History.

With what feels like record speed, it’s once again time for our look back at the past year. Our steady rebound from 2020’s COVID-19–related site closures and event cancellations continued into 2022, with ongoing efforts to balance staff and visitor safety with everyone’s desire to get back out onto the Pennsylvania Trails of History. Visitation levels that started to increase in 2021 have stabilized or continued to climb. School groups are coming back, although many schools are still curtailing field trips. We look forward to more school visits in 2023. Even with the return of in-person visits and events, digital programs have retained their place on our calendars, including virtual lectures at Cornwall Iron Furnace and The State Museum of Pennsylvania, the PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase series, and a hybrid Winter History Class at Ephrata Cloister. Here are a few more highlights of 2022.


The Return of Special Events

Pennsylvania Trails of History sites began welcoming visitors again to larger events in the late summer and fall of 2021, but pandemic recovery had to wait until 2022 for our spring and early summer events. Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum’s Herb & Garden Faire was on hold in 2020 and 2021, although the Heirloom Seed Program, which relies on the event for financial support, moved its seed catalog online. Gardeners and vendors happily returned to Landis Valley on Mother’s Day weekend 2022 to buy plants and other garden supplies.

The Bark Peelers’ Festival at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum on Independence Day weekend drew more than 3,000 visitors this year, surpassing prepandemic attendance at the two-day event.

Eckley Miners’ Village’s Patchtown Days expanded on previous programs in its return. As site administrator Bode Morin noted, “We are thrilled to return Patchtown Days to the public. It has been three long years since the last major event and we’re very excited to showcase the village and regional arts and culture to visitors and community. This year we’re working closely with the Carbon Chamber and Walk-In Arts Center to bring more regional music and arts to the history of Eckley.”


Art of the State 2022

This year’s Art of the State exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania opened on September 11. Art of the State 2022 is the 55th annual exhibition, showcasing the work of Pennsylvania artists and providing a snapshot of creative endeavor in the commonwealth. The 2022 exhibition includes 92 works in five categories, selected from 1,850 entries from 542 artists. The selection jurors were Sheila Cuellar-Shaffer, a Colombian American artist whose work has been shown at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Susquehanna Museum of Art, and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, among others; Michele Carlson, associate professor of printmaking at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University; and Roland Graf, an Austrian media artist, designer and associate professor at the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design.


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The Art of the State awards ceremony was held in person for the first time since 2019, filling the State Museum auditorium. First, second and third place winners in craft, painting, photography, sculpture and work on paper were announced, along with the William D. Davis Memorial Award for Drawing. Awards juror was Cynthia Haveson Veloric, an art historian, curator, writer, lecturer and environmental advocate. In addition, The State Museum’s Art Docents Corps presented the Docents’ Choice Award. A virtual tour, images of exhibited works, artist statements, and award recipients can be found on the Art of the State landing page.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

PHMC sites continued their efforts to include more diverse stories and perspectives as part of the agency’s DEIA initiatives. In the Fall 2022 issue, we highlighted the homecoming of members of the five federally recognized tribes of the Delaware diaspora at Pennsbury Manor, where they held a ceremony to rebury their ancestors.

Pennsbury, which received subsequent accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums this year, has worked with several organizations and individuals to present programming and art exhibits highlighting African American and Native American history and art; a Juneteenth celebration with the African American Museum of Bucks County; Dreams of Freedom: The Threads That Hold Us Together, a traveling exhibit of quilts and mixed media inspired by the life of Harriet Tubman, organized by the Sankofa Artisans Guild; and an outdoor art project by Nathan Young (Delaware/ Pawnee/Kiowa), a multidisciplinary artist and composer from Oklahoma.

Cyrus Tiffany’s fife on exhibit at the Erie Maritime Museum. Erie Maritime Museum, FN2010.6.1A / Photo by Linda Bolla

Cyrus Tiffany’s fife on exhibit at the Erie Maritime Museum.
Erie Maritime Museum, FN2010.6.1A / Photo by Linda Bolla

Erie Maritime Museum, where staff have been discussing the participation of African Americans in the Battle of Lake Erie without many objects to help tell the stories, recently fulfilled that need with the display of a walnut and brass fife in the main exhibit gallery. The fife is said to have been played by Cyrus “Titus” Tiffany on board the U.S. Brig Lawrence, Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship at the start of the battle (he later had to move to the U.S. Brig Niagara when the Lawrence suffered severe damage from the British). Tiffany, a free Black man from New England, was a veteran of the American Revolution and already in his 70s when he accompanied Perry to Erie in 1813.

In May, PHMC unveiled a new Pennsylvania Historical Marker at Ephrata Cloister recognizing Sister Föben, Sister Ketura and Sister Hanna and noting that they are the earliest known female composers in America. The important roles of women in the celibate community at Ephrata have long been part of the interpretation at the site, but the attribution of hymns in the “Ephrata Codex” is a relatively recent development. Dr. Christopher Herbert, a musicologist who has studied the music of Ephrata, noticed the names of the three women while digitizing the manuscript, now in the Library of Congress. This new historical marker adds to the story for visitors and draws attention to the history of music and women’s roles at Ephrata.


Ongoing Initiatives

Two significant projects funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) continued this year. The 2019 Accessibility Excellence project, in which PHMC was a lead partner with PA Museums, wrapped up at the end of September with the launch of a dedicated website for the project self-study, resource and planning tools.

The PA History to Go video project, funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) in 2020, has produced videos for each of the Trails of History sites, all of which will be available on PHMC’s YouTube channel in the new year.


Amy Killpatrick Fox is a museum educator in PHMC’s Bureau of Historic Sites & Museums. She also writes a weekly blog also called Trailheads.