News Roundup for a New Month

As we're on the cusp of April and May, the program pages for both are up at the same time (April programs here, May programs here). Be sure to take a look to see what's what on the Trails of History.


The Pennsylvania State Archives will offer "Archives without Tears," their popular 2-day workshop on archival management and care, twice in the weeks ahead - May 24-25 at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum and June 16-17 at the Blair County Genealogical Society. The cost at each location is $30 for both days or $20 for either day (the program is different each day); registration fees include lunch, so it's quite a deal. Register by contacting the location you wish to attend. (You'll find an image of the brochure and more info here and a downloadable version of the brochure and registration form on Blair County Genealogical Society's website.)

Speaking of the State Archives, plans for a new building were announced earlier this week. PHMC has been working with the City of Harrisburg and others to secure property on which to build an updated and expanded facility to house the commonwealth's permanently valuable records and make them available for research. Tuesday's announcement (read about it on PennLive) included the fact that the new building will also house city archives and make them more readily available to the public. The project is expected to take about 4 years to complete; Archives staff are already preparing for the move to the new building.

Download the International Museum Day 2016 poster from ICOM

For those of you who combine a love of museums with a love of Twitter, May has not one, but two, days you should know about. May 12 is Museum Memories Day (#MusMem), where you are asked to share your favorite memories (recent or not-so-recent) of museums you've visited or work with. And May 18 is International Museum Day (#MuseumDay2016), an opportunity for museums all over the world to showcase their programs, exhibits, communities, what have you. UPDATE:May 25 is #MusFavObjects day - share a photo of your favorite museum object with the Twitterverse. Check out PHMC's Twitter account (@PHMC) throughout May (or anytime, for that matter) to see what sites on the Trails of History are sharing. I'll also try to share here on Trailheads or my own Twitter account (@AmyKFox).

The latest edition of PHMC's collections-focused blog, Pennsylvania Treasures, features a 19th-century weathervane that doubled as a commercial sign for blacksmith W. Gerfin. The post was written by Jennifer Royer, who co-curated the new Weathervane exhibit at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. The exhibit, "Weathervanes: Three Centuries of a Pennsylvania Folk Art Tradition," will be on view through December.

If you read Trailheads regularly, you know that I usually encourage folks to vote in the now-annual Museum Dance Off competition (now in its third year as #MDO3). The first round of match-ups is drawing to a close and earlier this week we had a chance to vote for the Chemical Heritage Foundation's video. The focus of the video was an array of women who pursued research in the sciences (some I'd heard of, some I hadn't). Our own Dr. Joseph Priestley (whose American home is part of the PHMC Trails of History) made a cameo appearance (folks from the Chemical Heritage Foundation have supported projects at Priestley House on many occasions). Unfortunately, the video came in 2nd for Round 1, Day 7, so it will not move on to Round 2, which starts on Monday.

Celebrating Earth Day on the Trails of History

If you're looking for ways to enjoy this April weather, be sure to check out the April program page.

Today's post comes from frequent guest blogger Linda Bolla, writing about the Erie Maritime Museum's participation in the local expression of a project called "National Water Dance." The event took place last weekend. I also want to note that Eckley Miners' Village worked with folks from their local Keystone Job Corps Center to plant a tree in honor of Earth Day (I believe this is the second year (or more) that they've done this).

Water Dancers from coast to coast created a “movement choir,” performing simultaneously to draw attention to pressing water issues in the United States. Using the power of art and performance, the goal is to help create a national water ethic that can inform and inspire both performers and audience to take responsibility for conserving and protecting the water we use and enjoy.


The Erie Committee (led by Mercyhurst University Associate Professor of Dance Solveig Santilliano) subtitled the local event “The Ripple Effect” to emphasize our hope that the event would create a ripple throughout Erie, educating the community on water issues and suggesting steps the community can take to improve local water quality.

All participants performed in or near a significant body of water in their own community, so it was no surprise the dance in Erie began at Dobbins Landing, the oldest historic and most accessible pier on Erie Harbor.

Water Dancers at Erie's Dobbins Landing pier (photo by Mark Santilliano)

Performers and audience, led by saxophonist Kevin Timko, then processed along the waterfront to the Erie Maritime Museum, pausing for bits of theater along their way. When the audience arrived, they were greeted by dancers performing vignettes in six separate spaces in the Museum. Unique to the Erie event was the diversity of artistic offerings. In addition to dance, the Museum hosted a visual and sculptural art exhibit (on the 1st Floor through May 8th), the Delaware Gap Jazz Combo, and demonstrating artist, Keiko Miller, who created Japanese screens illustrating the water cycle and incorporating her students’ calligraphy and origami.

Dancers in the Museum's main gallery (photo by Mark Santilliano)
An enthusiastic audience member joins in the dancing (photo by Dana Borczon)

After the audience flowed through the Museum and lobby, where Mercyhurst University student ambassadors led a rainstick activity for children, the event culminated in a main stage celebration, showcasing Mercyhurst University dancers, musicians and vocalists, as well as dancers from many other Erie dance studios. The program was woven around narrative by Dr. Amy Parente of the university’s Chemistry Department, with poetic interludes provided by the middle-school winners of the NW Pennsylvania Poetry Contest.

"Down to the River to Pray," performed by Mercyhurst Dancers (photo by Mark Santilliano)

So, are you inspired yet? Happy Earth Day – and make every day, earth day.

Volunteers of the Year!

Looking for something to do this weekend? Be sure to visit the April program page for ideas.

We've come to the end of National Volunteer Week and the middle of National Volunteer Month, so let's take a look at how sites on the Trails of History are celebrating. A number of sites are highlighting their volunteers on social media - so far I've seen posts from Ephrata Cloister, Hope Lodge, Pennsbury Manor, PA Trails of History, Railroad Museum of PA, State Museum of PA, and Washington Crossing Historic Park.

Honorees, presenters, and guests, April 9, 2016 (photo by Don Giles)
On Saturday, April 9, we gathered at the State Museum of Pennsylvania to honor all PHMC volunteers and to recognize the Volunteer of the Year honorees for service in 2015. Despite the April snow that kept some attendees from making the trip to Harrisburg, it was a festive day. There were many smiling faces as we celebrated the diversity of contributions made by volunteers to the sites on the Trails of History. PHMC Executive Director James Vaughan and Commissioner Fredrick Powell presented each honoree with a resolution from the PHMC, a volunteer pin, and a one-year complimentary membership in the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation. Citations were read by Brenda Reigle, director of the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, and Beth Hager, interim director of the State Museum. Following a light lunch, many of the attendees enjoyed touring the State Museum with Dr. Curt Miner, curator, and volunteer coordinator Amy Jukus.

The honorees are pictured below, and there is a link for each so that you can read more about their activities. Please join me in congratulating them and thanking them for their support of PHMC's historic sites and museums.

Outstanding Service Award (photo by Don Giles)
L to R: Commissioner Fred Powell, honorees Courtney, Patty, and Bob Clendennen, PHMC Executive Director James Vaughan (text of citation)

David Berk (in memoriam), Anthracite Heritage Museum & Scranton Iron Furnaces (citation)

John Amspacher, Brandywine Battlefield Park (citation)

Wendy Stier, Bushy Run Battlefield (citation)

Kim Otto, Conrad Weiser Homestead (citation)

Don Beck, Cornwall Iron Furnace (citation)

Beverly Connor, Daniel Boone Homestead (citation)

Paul Adomites, Drake Well Museum (citation)

Regina Drasher, Eckley Miners' Village (citation)

Jane Koch, Ephrata Cloister (citation)

Jeanne Baker, Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara (citation)

Carol Brunner, Graeme Park (citation)

John A. Smith, Jr., Hope Lodge (citation)

Michael Kuhns, Joseph Priestley House (caption)

Gloria Stevens, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (caption)

Eileen Gross, Old Economy Village (citation)

Ron Schmid, Pennsbury Manor (citation)

Sam Cooke, PA Lumber Museum (citation)

Thomas Gray, PA Military Museum (caption)

Doug O'Brien, Railroad Museum of PA (Craig Benner photo) (citation)

Kathy Murdy, Somerset Historical Center (citation)

Toni Donchak, State Museum of PA (citation)

I thought it was spring, but I was wrong

Be sure to check out the April program page for a list of stuff to do this weekend and beyond.

As I write this, the "s" word has found its way back into the forecast for the weekend. In many years of involvement with the PHMC's Volunteer of the Year awards program, I don't think I've ever had to worry about snow, but sure enough, there it is. I'm very optimistic and don't think it will seriously hamper the festivities, but it's a real pain to have to think about it (and a blessing I don't take for granted that I don't have to do so very often). Watch for a post later this month recapping this year's honorees. This week's post, on the other hand, is all over the place.

Garden at Hope Lodge earlier this week - hope the flowers don't freeze (from Facebook)
Old Economy Village has reopened for the season, so the Centennial activities are getting started. A changing exhibit and a full slate of programs and activities are planned to mark 100 years of the commonwealth's ownership of the site. Among the events planned is "Descendants' Days," a multi-day program for descendants of Harmony Society members and the hired workers who were also part of their community. The program is being offered in partnership with the Harmony Museum in Harmony, PA, the first home of the Harmony Society (Economy was their third and last).


"Touch of Class," the newest resident of the barn at Pennsbury Manor, recently arrived from the Standardbred Retirement Association's Adoptahorse program
For more pictures of horses at historic sites (and lots of other beautiful things), check out photographer Jennifer MacNeill's latest pix from Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum.


Although the weather did not fully cooperate, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum's first Community Day event was still quite successful (some photos). The trail hikes and the guided walk on the Sustainable Forestry Trail fell victim to snow and frigid temps, but demos in the logging camp and the displays by various community organizations in the Community Room went ahead (with some adjustments). Between 400 and 500 people were in attendance (many checking in via Facebook). All in all, a great day to introduce more people to the new building and its award-winning exhibit.

Last week was #MuseumWeek on Twitter, with museums all over the world taking part. Sean Adkins pulled together the PHMC Trails of History tweets on Storify, so you can see them all in one place if you weren't following along.

The Pithole Visitor Center (which is administered by Drake Well Museum) posted the following photo on their Facebook page this week. It was taken by intern Josh Long last summer at a vintage baseball game that was part of the Pithole 150 celebrations. Pithole invites you to spot the time-traveling object in the photo (comment on their FB page).


NEW INFO: A heads-up for those of you who have followed the Museum Dance-Off organized by "When You Work at a Museum" - this year's voting starts Monday, April 18. There were lots of entries, so voting in round one will be fast and furious (a detailed schedule and more car movie references on Tumblr). Can't wait! BREAKING NEWS: productivity across the museum-loving world will plummet as When You Work At A Museum is now posting the videos ahead of the start of voting. Sorry.

Friday post [replace with witty title for April Fool's Day]

UPDATE: I'll be adding some of my favorite museum-related April Fool's Day jokes to the bottom of this post throughout the day.

The April program page is up and running, and I've highlighted some of this weekend's events below. But first...

This week's "Pennsylvania Treasure" post on the State Museum's website was written by Linda Bolla (a frequent guest blogger here on Trailheads). The focus of the piece (full text and image) is a Blue Star Service Flag from World War I that is part of the collection at the Erie Maritime Museum. It was displayed by Leila Seidel Stine and her parents at their home in Erie to denote that Leila's husband, William Stine (born 1887), was serving in the Armed Forces. William registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 (he and Leila married later that month) - he had already served 12 years in the Navy, on board USS Maine, USS Washington, and USS Wolverine (he appears in a crew photo that is part of the Museum's exhibit on the USS Wolverine/Michigan). "Pennsylvania Treasures" is a weekly post highlighting an object (occasionally a document) that is in PHMC's collection (you can subscribe and receive an email with each new post).

Speaking of Erie, I've always loved time lapse videos (even before there was anything called a "video"), so I thought I'd share this one from a past season of uprigging the U.S. Brig Niagara. This year's work has begun, and it should look something like this...



We are nearing the end of #MuseumWeek, an international Twitter event that has already featured hundreds, nay thousands, of tweets from museums all over the globe. Pennsylvania Trails of History sites @DrakeWellMuseum, @LandisValley, and @PHMC have been participating and more may join in for the remainder of the week. If you're on Twitter and want to join in, the daily hashtags are #FutureMW (today, April 1); #ZoomMW (April 2); and #LoveMW (April 3).

Dick Wanner reported on the new weathervane exhibit at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum for Lancaster Farming (the leading farm newspaper for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic). He spoke with curator Jennifer Royer and site administrator Jim Lewars and wrote a detailed article about some of the featured artifacts, including the oldest known weathervane in the U.S., produced in 1699 for William Penn and two of his business partners, Samuel Carpenter and Caleb Pusey. The exhibit will be on view through December.

Coming up...

Conrad Weiser Homestead
April 3: Spring Lecture—speaker is Mark Turdo, curator of the Peter Wentz Farmstead, presenting "Without Noise or Parade: The Spiritual and Material Culture of Moravian Indian Missions." Site is open noon-4 pm, the lecture is at 2.

Ephrata Cloister
April 2: Benefit Brunch at Ten Thousand Villages—the Ten Thousand Villages store in Ephrata will donate 15% of food and merchandise purchases between 9 am and 3 pm today to support the programs of the site. It's a win-win (or a win-win-win, since you'll also be supporting Ten Thousand Villages' fair trade programs). Site volunteers will also be on hand to talk about upcoming programs.

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
April 1: Tickets for Tall Ships Erie—as of today, tickets are available to the general public for Tall Ships Erie 2016, Sept. 9-11.

Old Economy Village
April 1: Village reopens for the season—open Wed-Sat, 10 am-5 pm, Sun, noon-5 pm.
April 2: Blacksmithing Demonstration—Included in regular admission.

Pennsbury Manor
April 3: Tools of the Tradejoiner and blacksmith trades demos. Included in regular admission. 1-4 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
April 3: Community Dayplanned events include trades demos in the logging camp, a guided walk on the Sustainable Forestry Trail (about a mile), and a 5-mile group hike on the trails around the museum. Community groups will be on hand in the visitor center to share their info, and there will be food and drink for purchase. Admission is free. Event will be held rain or shine (and there is great stuff to see inside if it's rainy). 9 am-5 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
April 6: Friends Richard Koontz Memorial Lecture Series—"The Mexican Border War" features Maj. Gen. John Stevens (U.S. Army Retired) discussing Pres. Woodrow Wilson's decision to send an American expedition (led by Brig. Gen. John Pershing) to pursue "Pancho" Villa in 1916. Donations accepted. 7:30 pm.

Somerset Historical Center
April 4: “The Umberger Murder and the Trial of the Nicely Brothers”—in 1891, the Nicely Brothers were executed for killing Herman Umberger. Gretchen Smith and Jacob Miller will share the story of the murder, the trial, the execution, and the controversy surrounding them. The program will be followed by the Historical & Genealogical Society of Somerset County’s Annual Meeting. Admission is free. 6 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
April 1: PA State Geography Bee—please note that Mammal Hall and the Archaeology Galleries will be closed 12:15-2 pm today for the preliminary rounds of the state geography bee.

And now...

We are pleased to announce a new partnership with City of Pittsburgh - Office of the Mayor to make Pittsburgh,...

Posted by Carnegie Museum of Art on Friday, April 1, 2016


We took our five tribbles out of storage and fed them. What could go wrong? Learn more: http://s.si.edu/tribbletrouble#StarTrek #TribbleTrouble #BoldyGo

Posted by National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution on Friday, April 1, 2016