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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Field Trip

In addition to exposing our summer interns to the quirks and wonders of the Rosenbach, I like to take them to other museums that are different from ours. This gives the interns a chance to see how other museums operate and to put their Rosenbach experience in a broader perspective. In order to accomplish this, I am very grateful to all my museum colleagues in Philadelphia and beyond who take time out of their busy schedules to meet with us and show us around.

Our first trip this year was to our neighbor, the Mutter Museum. As usual, we had a fabulous time. Not only do they have a fascinating collection, with its own unique set of collections care and interpretation challenges, but I could listen to their curator, Anna Dhody, read a cereal box--she's that engaging. But don't take my word for it--you can see her and other Mutter staff on the Mutter's chock-full YouTube channel. Anna stars in the "What's on the Curator's Desk" weekly feature, among others.

Our second trip took place this past week and involved two museums in Doylestown--the Mercer Museum and Fonthill. Our own Patrick Rodgers used to work at Fonthill, so he kindly helped get everything set up. Although the famous concrete castles are a bit warm in the summer it was more than worth it to get to see Henry Mercer's amazing collections and to get a chance to talk with the people who work with them every day--Cory Amsler, Melissa Jay, and Ed Reidell. Both Mercer and Fonthill have done great job designing programs that explore their collections in new ways and with fun twists and we got a chance to talk about how they keep their collections intriguing, appealing, and relevant. (We all wanted to sign up for the Wizard Camp at the Mercer and the Medieval Camp at Fonthill, but we fell outside the age cutoff)

The Mercer Museum also just opened a new wing last month to allow for more special exhibits, so it was also an opportunity to think about museum construction and design. The Mercer's original building is obviously quite idiosyncratic, so instead of trying to match it architecturally, they've chosen a more modern design, which harmonizes in terms of color and material, and also preserves the views of and from the original building. Plus it has a green roof!

Here we are in the central hall at the Mercer. You can't see the whaleboat and Conestoga wagon hanging above our heads, but you should go up to Doylestown and check them out for yourselves!


And here we are at Fonthill. In this picture we are on the ground, but we did climb all the way to the top of Fonthill's tower (you can too if you go on their Tower Tour this Saturday). As you can see, a good--and educational--time was had by all.

Thank you again to all of our hosts!

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