Yesterday, on September 11, 2018, my public history class went on a site visit to the Second Bank Building of the U.S. Our tour guide Karie Diethorn led us through the building and gave us so much useful and intriguing background information about the museum. In the first main room, we looked at paintings done by Charles Wilson Peale and the different men and women in the paintings were put into different sections of the exhibit. The people in the paintings corresponded with their field of excellence whether it be Education, Business, or Law. There was also a sculpture of George Washington made out of wood that looked like stone. He, along with his colonial dress, had a cloak around him calling back the ideals of classical Greece. He looked quite astute and noble. One of the first things I noticed when entering the museum was the old musty smell. We entered through the basement and went up the stairs to the main hallway. The smell really took me back to the old days when things were made of brick, stone, and wood. It really felt like I got a taste of what it must have been like to live back then. Karie, an expert on Early American History led us through the museum elaborating on the exhibits and what their significance was. I really enjoyed how appealing she designed the exhibits to be. They were very attractive and inviting. A lot like what I imagine Peale wanted his museum to be. While Karie really gave us a firm background on Peale, Washington, and figures like Robert Morris and his wife Mary White, Erin Pauwels really gave us fantastic information about the art aspects and what Peale was trying to convey in his paintings. After looking through the exhibits in the main hallway, we got to move into a room filled with portraits painted by Peale. Many of the men he painted were founding fathers and early statesmen. Peale often painted those he admired or looked up to. In this room, many of the paintings are arranged close to the ceiling to convey the message that we should look up to these political, stately, and educated men who founded this country. This room reminded me of Peale’s “Long Room” where men to look up to are placed at the top signifying their intelligence, work ethic and enlightenment. One last interesting piece that we saw was a taxidermy eagle. It was perched on a rock with its wings spread. I got a feeling of nostalgia and pride from this piece. To me it represents the birth of new and proud country that won its independence from a tyrannical empire. I really enjoyed this museum experience and I am excited to go back in the near and distant future. I would highly recommend this awesome piece of American History.
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