I visited the Peale Museum last week, and although it was a lot smaller than I expected, there was a lot of information in that room. Immediately, the first thing I saw was the Peale family tree and it was truly amazing to see the list of ancestry on that wall. They were a large family of Patriots, Artists, Naturalists, Entrepreneurs and Tinkerers. One of the first things I came across in the exhibit was a picture of James Peale and a little description of the Peale family’s involvement in the Revolution. Also, the revolution was the first thing we talked about in class, it was cool to see the parallel there. Charles Wilson Peale did a lot of contract painting work for a lot of influential American families. It was also interesting to see more of the signage that was recovered from Charles Peale, including his inquiry about acquiring a family estate from a deceased family member.
Another piece of signage I came across in the exhibit was Peale’s advertisement for his Moving Picture Show. Although some of the things in the exhibit weren’t directly discussed in class, they are still somewhat relevant to the history of the Peale family and their influence on Philadelphian culture. We did however read about Peale’s mammoth/mastodon, and there was a lot of written documentation of his findings and sketches of the skeletal structure of the mastodon and where it can be found for viewers. It was also interesting to learn that Charles Peale was among one of the first members to be in the American Philosophical Society alongside Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, and Thomas Edison.
I really think that the exhibit did a great job of explaining the Peale family’s involvement in our American culture. It was very interesting to me to see all of the documentation surrounding this family, and even more intriguing to see where the Peale family has been around the world, exploring and learning as much as they can do bring back to America. The only thing I could recommend to the museum workers is to turn the lights up a little bit, I found myself squinting my eyes just to see what was written on some of the documents. I’m glad I went!