Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.

Among the many treasures surviving from Ephrata Cloister, founded by Conrad Beissel (1681–1768) in 1732, are Germanic-style buildings, impressive books, and beautifully illuminated manuscripts, including one which combines two significant arts practiced in the eighteenth-century religious settlement in Lancaster County: music and the Pennsylvania German art of fraktur. Beissel developed a system for composing four-part harmonies and published the first American treatise on harmony in 1746. Those who heard the singing of the original celibate Brothers and Sisters of Ephrata described it as heavenly. Members with little talent for music created ornate calligraphy and illuminations, producing large wall placards, book inscriptions, and hymnals. The Brotherhood operated a printing press but did not possess the technology for printing musical notes, requiring singers to hold two books, one with words printed by the press and the other with the music drawn by hand. The manuscript, formerly owned by Lutheran Pastor Frederick S. Weiser (1935–2009), a descendant of part-time Ephrata member Conrad Weiser (1696–1760), was purchased in 1997 by the Ephrata Cloister Associates for the museum’s collection. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which administers Ephrata Cloister, is observing “William Penn’s Legacy: Religious and Spiritual Diversity” as its annual theme for 2011.