I had the chance recently to visit the new temporary exhibit at Old Economy Village (okay, not SO new, it opened in May). “Harmony in Wood,” which will be up through the month of December in the Visitor Center, explores furniture made by members of the Harmony Society during the 19th century. The exhibit received support from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. Although it looks like an art exhibit—beautiful wood furniture against pale blue walls—it does much more than celebrate the aesthetics of the pieces. Not that there isn’t plenty to celebrate.
The exhibit does a great job, in my opinion, of putting the furniture in its historical and cultural context. You’ll learn some basic history about the Harmonists and their settlement at Oekonomie (their third home in the United States). You’ll also get to see some of the tools used to make this beautiful furniture and “meet” some of the people who made these pieces (a guided tour of the site includes the Cabinet Shop where the furniture makers worked).
Throughout the exhibit, period illustrations and photographs, documents, and close-ups of furniture details help to convey the world in which this furniture was made and used.
The exhibit wraps up with information on what happened to some of the furniture between the time the Harmony Society disbanded and Old Economy Village opened as a museum.
A visit to “Harmony in Wood” is included in your admission to the site, as are the museum’s orientation video and exhibit (also in the Visitor Center). Plan enough time to see the exhibits, take a tour, and enjoy some time in the garden. Or come to the Erntefest harvest festival tomorrow (Sept. 26). Check out Old Economy’s calendar for information on special events and programs.