PHMC curators log in for Ask A Curator

Many thanks to PHMC Social Media Manager Sean Adkins for this post on the upcoming #AskACurator Day. If you're looking for PA Trails of History activities, the September program page will help you decide.

Next week, three curators stationed at historic sites across Pennsylvania are taking off the gloves. Well, only if they’re wearing gloves will they need to take them off. Sometimes, curators don’t wear…the point is that Sue Beates, Bruce Bomberger and Sue Hanna have graciously volunteered to take part in Ask A Curator Day on Wednesday, Sept. 14. So far, more than 1,000 museums and historic sites from all corners of the world have signed on for Ask A Curator Day, a social media event geared toward engaging the public and connecting them with museum staff.

Essentially, Ask A Curator is a Twitter-based Q&A that serves as a venue where curators and people can chat about nearly anything that piques their curiosity. Questions may range from the silly (“Do exhibits really come alive at night, after the museum is closed?") to the more serious (“Where do get your ideas for exhibits?”). Last year, our curators had fun answering a host of great questions.

And don’t be shy about sharing photos and videos. Often, residents share with us their Pennsylvania stories ranging from how their relatives toiled in the mines near Pittsburgh to the Native American pottery that’s been passed down from one generation to the next. Curators want to learn those histories and, in the process, might be able to offer a few previously unknown facts and interpretations. Just remember to submit your questions via Twitter with the #AskACurator hashtag. Have questions now that you want to ask? No problem. Send your questions now to and our curators will supply the answers on Ask A Curator Day.

At this point, you’re likely wondering which Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission curators will be taking off their gloves long enough to field your questions. Well, we’ve put together a strong lineup packed with the most knowledgable curators.

Here’s the who, where and when you’ll be speaking with on Sept. 14:

Drake Well Curator Sue Beates and volunteer Toni Urey
Drake Well curator Sue Beates (front) and collections volunteer Toni Urey
Who: Please join Susan Beates, curator at the Drake Well Museum and Park in Titusville, Pa., as she shares her knowledge of the History of the Pennsylvania Oil Industry. Susan has a Master of Arts in Public History from West Virginia University and Bachelor of Arts in History & Folk Arts from the same university.  She's been floating in oil since February 1998. She will be joined by collections volunteer Toni Urey.

Where: @DrakeWellMuseum

When: 11 to 11:45 a.m.

Landis Valley curator Bruce Bomberger
Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum curator Bruce Bomberger
Who: Join Bruce Bomberger, curator at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum in Lancaster, Pa., as he answers questions about the Landis brothers, their lives, motivations and the collection preserved at the historic site. Bomberger, who has worked for PHMC since 1984, holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Lebanon Valley College, a Master of Arts in American History from Penn State University and a doctorate in American history from Lehigh University. He has prepared museum exhibits on agricultural technology, local inventors, African-American history, Pennsylvania German traditions, the Landis family and the Pennsylvania long rifle.

Where: @LandisValley

When: 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

PHMC regional curator Sue Hanna
PHMC regional curator Sue Hanna
Who: Join Sue Hanna, regional curator for PHMC’s Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, who will discuss the recently installed core exhibit at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) selected “Challenges and Choices in Pennsylvania’s Forests” as a 2016 Leadership in History award winner. This exhibit explores six time periods, from 800 BCE through the present, with the goal of illustrating the intended and unintended consequences of human interaction with the forest. Sue, who was part of the team that developed “Challenges and Choices in Pennsylvania’s Forests,” holds a graduate degree in American Civilization (Material Culture) from the University of Pennsylvania.   

Where: @PHMC

When: 3 to 3:45 p.m.


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