Visit With Patrick Grossi

Before Patrick Grossi came to class, I did not know much about the preservation that took place in the city. I honestly thought more took place than what is actually being done. Something I thought was interesting was the zoning with CMX 5 and how it can limit how high up a building can be built, which some developers will add to to create a larger profit.

I wasn’t sure what angle to go with the preservation advocacy until my friends sent me an article about something the Patrick brought up. We had talked about how a historic district was on campus because of 1810 Liacouras walk across from Alter Hall. I learned how the front (or back) of the building has been up kept with the historic district. I had no idea that since the building will become a part of the Fox School of Business, there was consideration for a sky walk to be installed.

My friends had sent an article a few hours after class about how the board was voting on different renovations that would be made to the building, including the skywalk. Most of my friends (who are in Fox of STHM) thought that it was a great idea and would help the university. Since we talked about it in class, I gave my opinion on it and how the historic side of the argument came into play. Something that upset me about the article is it seemed a bit one sided with most of the people that were involved in it. It seemed that more opinions of those from CLA could have been included since so many from Fox were. Also, out of personal opinion, I’m not sure a skywalk would be the part to have students decide they want to go to a school, which the article stated.

Article Link:

Architecture committee vetoes Fox skywalk

Eastern State

After visiting Eastern State, I went back and looked at the reading again to think about the type of spot that the site is when thinking about it as a museum. Before having ever been there, I thought it would be a historic site. However, it seemed like more of a museum with the new exhibits that have been worked on and the options for tours that are available.

During the visit, we learned about the different issues that Eastern State has faced while renovating the old prison. The prison seems to have been transformed so that it is a new age museum. It reminded me about how House museums will go through different renovation to show what they once were like. The difference with Eastern State was that they wanted to keep the building in some of the conditions it was in to give off the feel of an old prison. The renovations Eastern State has been apart of seem to deal with the social issues that occurred when the prison was up and running and that are still taking place today. By having people come to what they know of as the “Haunted House thing”, you can help educate the public on issues that are going on in society with the criminal justice system. House museums seem to try to also relate what has happened with their structure to issues today, but Eastern State has the luxury of being able to show so many more people.

Something else I connected to the reading was how the Dennis Sever house was self guided. If a person wanted, they would not have to go on a big tour at Eastern State and could just use the audio sets to guide them. I thought it was interesting since when talking to the guides, it seemed like you could get two totally different experiences depending on which tour you take. It has me interested in doing both just to see what it is like.

Donald J. Trump Museum of Atlantic City

Going into this class after reading the piece about participatory museums and then thinking about the directions are going, it seems as though the visitor of the museum now has more say in what they are witnessing more than ever at a museum. Simon talked a lot about things like Youtube and Facebook have revolutionized our world, and that museums are starting to follow in their foot steps. While all museums might not have made the technical advances, it seems that most museums are creating their exhibits to be more responsive for the people who are visiting them. An example that comes to mind immediately is the Philadelphia History Museum that I have been working with. One room is full of people who were interviewed about the city and their videos are on display showing how they responded. There are also countless items that have either been donated by the community, or that the community can relate to, like items from past elections in the city and different sports milestones that have taken place. The staff also provided different historians who would answer any questions that a visitor might have, even if they were not on tour. These were just some of the points that Simon made that can be seen in a local museum.

Levi Fox also seemed to show these different elements when talking about the process he has been going through for the museum. The largest example would be the different items he has been collecting from people. As soon as he walked into class, I recognized the cooler that he had since I’ve seen it in the garage of a friend’s house since her parents used to work at one of the casinos. It goes back to how we have discuss that people are able to connect with objects. While I may have had my negative thoughts when seeing the cooler, other might have memories at staying at the casino and think it is great that such an item was saved.

For some reason, even though it would not have to with Trump in Atlantic City, I kept picturing the museum having some type of computer or screen that would have the different tweets from Trump. The display would have tweets from over the past few years are visitors could go through them, making like a new age type of archive. Besides the museum showing examples of what we read, it was helpful to get tips from Levi. He talked about how collaboration can be a pain and the challenges that come with being a public historian. It was interesting to see someone going through the process at the moment to hopefully display a finished project.

The Powel House

I thought it was really interesting to visit the Powel House for a second trip, especially after talking to the two public historians who spent time with us. The first time I went, I mainly found information on Elizabeth Powel since my paper focused around her life. I did not realize that so many different stories could be told about the house, like when the project that was talked about to create five different tours for the Powel House that could be conducted. Talking about the opera that took place back in September showed how the Powel’s were not the only family to have a significant role with the house. It also showed the different ways public historians can attract people to historical sites and learn more about them. I also thought it was noteworthy how that in class we have read about the American Wing and other Museums that have period rooms as exhibits, and that the Powel House has two rooms that are in two different museums. It felt like readings besides the Murtagh’s The Preservation Movement seemed to come full circle.

The preservation of the Powel House seemed to take place for many of the reasons Murtagh brought up. One of the most notable points was that the Powel House was a place that George Washington frequently visited during his time in Philadelphia. In fact, George and Martha Washington danced at the Powel House for their twentieth wedding anniversary, so a place of such value had to be saved. George Washington is one of the main symbols of nationalism in America, so preserving a place where it spent time was saving history. Murtagh also brought up how many preservation groups were formed by elite women, like the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The Powel House came about in a similar fashion by the women of the Wister family in Philadelphia (I tried to find the name of who it was exactly since I forgot to make a note of it while on tour). She wanted to preserve the house, but in doing so, only wanted to have the memory of George Washington visiting and Samuel Powel. All of the rest of the stories were lost or mainly pushed to the side, like Elizabeth Powel taking the back burner to her husband.

Just as one last note, Jonathan was very helpful in showing how a place like the Powel House can be preserved. He mentioned how looking at documents like fire insurance can give an idea on the lay the house had and items that the owners may have had. The small details like that seemed very interesting and that preserving is somewhat like a puzzle.

Below are some pictures from the visit”

The Wagner Museum

For today’s class, it was spent at the Wagner Museum right near Temple’s campus. It was fascinating to see how off campus housing for students has surrounded the preserved historic site. A way for the museum to reach out and gain some more attraction might be to reach out to Temple as an institution. It seemed that the class, as history majors, found it to be interesting. Students from the school of science and technology may like to also be exposed to what Wagner has to offer if they are interested in ecology, biology, or other areas of natural science. The Wagner should reach out to professors to have their students who may be interested explore the museum since it is so close to campus and free.

It was a bit hard to imagine that the museum was supposed to be for the public to learn about natural sciences in the 1890s with the way it is set up. Looking at the cards that labeled the specimen, I even had a hard time understanding what some of the items were. Most items had their Latin names written down to describe what they are, but how much of the public actually knew Latin in the late nineteenth century. Along with that, it also made me wonder how much of the population was literate. Another obstacle that may have occurred was with the minerals, who had their scientific compounds on the label. I took advanced classes of chemistry in high school and a class in college, but did not know what made up some of the minerals.

The Wagner also has me wanting to learn more about natural history museums. There was a display about taxidermy that I enjoyed since I had no idea how it was done. The Wagner also seemed to show how the creation of the museum was what Wagner seemed to dedicate his time, besides being a merchant. Collecting over 100,000 items for the displays and finding what was on display fascinated me since there was so much. The trip has me wanting to go and visit more museums like it.

Independence Mall Trip

For today’s class time, it was spent at Independence mall and all of the historical sites that are within it. In the past, I have been to Independence mall and have had a different experience each time, but am still amazed each time I go to visit about all that had happened in the area. The last time I went to visit the site, it was to help a friend that did the Constitutional walks as a tour guide for the Constitution center to refresh the script for the tour after the winter. I made a few realizations about my last visit from being there today. We talked about how the groups running the tours are limited to what they are able to talk about while giving their tours. My friend who gave the tour briefly showed us the American Philosophical Society Museum, but did not go into much detail about. After learning about Peale, its amazing to see Peale was not talked about in the tour at all even though he seemed to have such an impact on the area. Seeing how Peale also had an influence on the area helped to show how artifacts and the mall came about.
Another experience I had previously at Independence mall was on Halloween in 2015 for College Game Day for football. When first finding out that Game Day would be there, I just figured it was because the area helped to show what Philadelphia had to offer since it has buildings and exhibits that were very influential in the founding of America. I did not know that the open area where everyone had stood had not always looked liked that, but had been redesigned in the 1950s. The national parks service doing so to create an area where crowds could practice their rights only added to what I learned today. I have seen first hand just what the intentions were for this design. I also saw for the first time that by standing by the Visitor Center, you can turn to see how the city has sprung up around Independence Hall. When looked out, it connects to how when reading about the anti-history, it creates a sense of what had happened and what is happening today without much in-between. From today’s visit, I was able to get a more in depth look at the National Park I have been visiting since I was young.