The Hill-Physick House was quite the historic house museum. It’s location in Old City/Society Hill captures the idea of historic value before even entering the estate. The primary owner of the house, Dr. Phillip Syng Physick was one of the most accomplished physicians of his time and as such he held a substantial amount of wealth comparable to a millionaire of today. He reached all sorts of medical breakthroughs that we still use today.
The house was somewhat recreated to represent what his house might have looked like but some of the artifacts and antiques belonging to Physick and his wife were still there and in tact. The guided tour we embarked on took us around the first floor of his house to see a variety of rooms such as the main hall, the back party room, and the front dining room. Taking a close look at the decorations and portraits throughout the home exemplify Physick’s wealth and capture the social atmosphere that frequented his household.
We were also able to get a closer look at a secret basement where Physick might have performed some procedures and learned more about how to improve the medical feel. The house’s creeky, old and eerie nature gives off the Autumnal Halloween vibe and the house would make a great attraction during that time to accumulate funds.
Speaking of funds, our trip concluded with a meeting on how the House accumulated funds to stay afloat. Although the meeting lasted long, we were able to get an inside look on what fund acquisition planning consisted of and how important it was to keeping house museums like the Hill-Physick house alive and relevant.
Dr. Pauwels and Karie Diethorn
A couple of days ago, I attended the Second Bank Building and Portrait Gallery in Old Town Philadelphia. The experience took us through a series of gallery rooms that showed off Charles Willson Peale’s artwork and philosophy of displaying this artwork. We were greeted by our tour guide and lead curator Karie Diethorn as well as Dr. Pauwels, and art history professional to provide further insight and analysis of the exhibits. Charles Willson Peale acted as a father of museums in early American history and we have discussed his impact on public history through the centuries in class. Peale is the artist behind many portraits of those he had admired during and after the American Revolution. Peale is also known for his interactive museum structuring, colorful backgrounds relating to the content, and careful consideration of positioning to convey ideas like the food chain with animals.
Our tour guides, Ms. Diethorn and Dr. Pauwels discussed key components of Peale’s artwork such as his use of backgrounds in many paintings. Some of the portraits he painted used metaphorical locations to depict certain ideology pertaining to the individual in the portrait. When someone says a picture says a thousand words, Charles Willson Peale takes it up a notch by painting elaborate stories requiring deciphering from those that can speak his language. In his 3D dioramas, Peale utilizes scenic backgrounds to compliment the realistic pieces in order to place the exhibit, in this case a bald eagle, in an appropriate backdrop where one might find this creature. Overall, I found the museum to be quite enjoyable, and looking at Peale’s artwork and museum philosophy first hand really emphasized the lasting impact he made on public history.
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