Taking Care of History

Taking Care of History UPDATE SEPT. 1: Due to the remnants of Hurricane Ida, some sites and museums may be cancelling programs or changing operating hours. Always be sure to check ahead before visiting.

Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual). I've included highlights below. The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen offer an array of online content generated by Trails of History sites. Also, if you're looking for a Covid vaccine provider, check out Vaccines.gov and enter your zip code.

Please note that staff and volunteers at Commonwealth of PA worksites, including the PA Trails of History, are wearing masks while indoors. Visitors are encouraged, though not required, to do so as well.

People in military uniform and civilians gather near two 44-foot gray artillery guns mounted on a concrete pedestal to mark the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
The annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day tribute at the Pennsylvania Military Museum takes place beneath two guns from the USS Pennsylvania (photo PMM)

As we've noted in this blog many times, the work of caring for the objects in our collections never ends (nor does the work of sharing those objects and their stories with our audiences and communities). Sometimes those objects are small and delicate. Sometimes they're, to reveal an insider term, "Big Metal Objects." This week the staff of the Pennsylvania Military Museum began a project to make necessary repairs to the Pennsy Guns, two 44-foot-long gun barrels from the USS Pennsylvania that are now displayed on the museum grounds (see photo above). The ship was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and these guns saw action during World War II. Site administrator Tyler Gum explains, “After more than 10 years of exposure, the necessary adjustments, and improvements are certainly due, as they would be if the barrels were still aboard the Pennsy.”

Work will include the temporary removal of the barrels from their pedestals, allowing for repairs to be completed successfully and safely. Caring for these immense artifacts is a responsibility held by museum curator Jennifer Gleim. “The Pennsylvania Military Museum is lucky to be the stewards of these important pieces of history," said Gleim. “We ensure the safety and integrity of the barrels on display by performing yearly condition reports and upkeep, in accordance with standards provided by the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.” Maintenance and repairs are performed by a team of engineers, architects, and historians. Once completed, both barrels will be remounted, allowing for continued interpretation and long-term preservation.

Two large red cranes lift a 44-foot long metal gun barrel onto a concrete pedestal at the PA Military Museum. There are people watching the work.
The Pennsy Guns being lifted into place at the museum in 2009 (photo by intern William Cawthern)

Upcoming Events (virtual & in-person)

Today, August 27
  • Drake Days (in-person): enjoy some extras with your visit today & tomorrow marking the 162nd anniversary of Col. Edwin L. Drake striking oil in northwestern PA, Drake Well Museum & Park, 10 am-4 pm each day, included in regular admission (DWM Facebook post for details)
  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual): view "Witness to History: WITF's Tim Lambert and 9/11," a pre-recorded interview by State Museum Director Beth Hager, 12:15-12:45 pm (SMOP link for program)
Saturday, August 28
  • Sawblades & Spinning Wheels (in-person): members of the local fiber arts community will be on site so bring your knitting, crochet, or other fiber projects, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, 1-3 pm (PLM Facebook for info)
Sunday, August 29
  • Last Sunday Sewing Circle (in-person): bring your sewing or embroidery projects and spend time with others who like to sew, Bushy Run Battlefield, 1-4 pm, repeats the last Sunday of each month, except Oct. (BRB Facebook post for details)
Wednesday, Sept. 1
  • Explore! (in-person): kids in grades 3-5 are invited to learn about black bears, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in regular admission (Explore! info)
Thursday, Sept. 2
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person): learn about the basic motions of the Earth and the Sun that cause us to experience seasons, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in regular admission, but space is limited (Curiosity Kids info)


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