The Centennial and the Museum School: The Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art

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Memorial Hall, Philadelphia. Centennial opening day, May 10, 1876. Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia Print & Picture Department.

Did you know that the Philadelphia Museum of Art began as a museum of industrial art? The museum, along with a school (now University of the Arts), was founded in 1876 in order to take advantage of the purchasing opportunities at the Centennial International Exhibition and was called the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (PMSIA).

The Centennial International Exhibition (Philadelphia, 1876), America’s first world’s fair, was a showcase for American manufacturing and for Philadelphia, then one of the world’s manufacturing giants. Sara MacDonald will present on how PMSIA began and how both institutions evolved to what they are today.

Sara MacDonald has been a librarian in charge of the archives at the University of the Arts since 1987. She co-authored The University of the Arts (ISBN 973854521X) in 2006 with Eugene A. Bolt, Jr. She has presented the institution’s history at conferences and to the UArts community.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Time:  5:30 Refreshments                 6:15 Program

Cost: $10 per person if preregistered       $15 if not reserved in advance

Place: Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center

You can park in the Circle, closer to the FWWIC

Registration: E-mail names and phone numbers of members and guests to: or phone Reese at 610-692-4456

Manayunk Sewer Detention Basin Tour


DATE: Tuesday, April 10, 2018                           TIME: 2 PM

The Venice Island underground storage basin of the Philadelphia Water Department is an enclosed basin which temporarily stores diverted flow from the sanitary interceptor sewer during intense rain storms. The basin is capable of storing nearly four million gallons of water that is later pumped out and directed to a treatment plant. The underground storage basin is approximately 400 feet long, 75 feet wide and 25 feet deep and located under the current parking lot and basketball courts.

In addition to the various pumping facilities necessary for the management of water flow, this project includes various green features and many community oriented facilities such as a performing arts center, athletic courts, amphitheatre and large parking area.

Our tour will be privileged to witness one of the periodic flushings of the storage basin.

Our tour leader will be Michael D. Hengstler, Superintendent with the Collector’s System Flow Control Unit. Michael is a 28 year veteran of the PWD. He spent his first 25 years in the Fresh Water Pumping Unit, starting in the Electrical Maintenance Group and eventually promoting to Assistant Superintendent of Pumping.

LOCATION: Enter Venice Island from Main St. in Manayunk via Lock St. We will meet at the Manayunk Performing Arts Center.,-75.2234336,17.27z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c6b895bcca36a7:0xd3bcbe23906e7c07!8m2!3d40.0234686!4d-75.2222112

PARKING: Kiosk parking on the Island near the Performing Arts Center. Cost is $4 for 2 hours which should be sufficient time for the tour.

BY TRAIN: Take SEPTA #R6 to Manayunk station, then a 5 block walk.

BY BUS: Take SEPTA #61 along Main St. from Wissahickon Transfer Station.

REGISTRATION: E-mail or call Reese Davis at or 610-692-4456

A Triple Tour in Trappe plus the Berman Museum of Art


Henry Muhlenberg House, Trappe (Collegeville)

Saturday, March 17

10:00 a.m, to approximately 1:30 p.m.

$15 for Philadelphia Chapter SAH members/OESIA members and their guests, payable on site.

Registration required, please email your name and the names of your guests to

We will be guided through three historic properties: The Speaker’s House was the home of Frederick Muhlenberg (1750-1801), the First and Third Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1781-1791.  The house is currently being restored to its late 18th-C appearance. The Augustus Lutheran Church, a National Historic Landmark built in 1743, was where the Reverend Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1711-1787), Frederick’s father, preached and became known as the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in the United States. And the Henry Muhlenberg House, a fully restored house museum furnished with many original family artifacts where Henry and his wife Anna Maria raised their large family, several of whom had a significant impact on colonial life in North America as pastors, military officers, and politicians. (

Then we will go to The Philip & Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College for a special tour of the exhibit Real Estate: Dwelling in Contemporary Art with Museum Director, Charlie Stainback.  Named by the Philadelphia Inquirer as one of “Fall’s 13 must-see art exhibits” it features the work of contemporary artists working with or responding to the varying aspects of real estate vernacular—buildings, rooms, structures, monuments, properties and houses.  From the monumental to ubiquitous building, the ordinary, or derelict piece of property to the historic site, architectural details or the room itself, the artists presented in Real Estate consider an array of norms that fall under the much broader term of “architecture”. (

We will begin at the Speakers House, 151 W. Main Street, Collegeville (Trappe), PA at 10:00 a.m. and tour the three properties through noon, then we’ll gather at the Berman Museum, 601 E Main Street, Collegeville, PA, at 12:30 p.m.  All of these sites are within 1.5 miles along Main Street.


Technology and Society: Engineering Cultures, Chemistry, and Social Order in the Second Industrial Revolution (1890 to 1930)

The lecture is concerned with the major surge of modernization and industrialization in the Western world around 1900 and contemporary debates among engineers—including chemical engineers—about the “consequences” of technology in society. The United States and Germany were the two leading countries of the Second Industrial Revolution, and it was here that engineers first formulated political theories, ethics, and metaphysics of technology and traded them across the Atlantic Ocean. Engineers were also at this time trying to constitute themselves as a new profession and social elite, facing often fierce opposition from traditional elites, such as the nobility, military, attorneys and physicians, practitioners of the “hard” sciences of chemistry and physics, and senior members of the civil service. Engineers, who had concerns about transferable skills, migration, philosophical reflection, and upward social mobility, were also a microcosm of larger segments of the population who were aspiring to become recognized citizens of the emerging secular bourgeois states. Taking the example of the relationship between engineers, chemical engineers, and chemists, I explore this understudied intersection of industrial experts and traditional social elites. I lay bare the diverse types of social and cultural capital that engineers used to carve out places for themselves in a society in which they were not unequivocally recognized as members of leading and distinguished classes.

The speaker, Heidi Voskuhl, teaches the history of technology in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

March 15, 2018

6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

Science History Institute

315 Chestnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event is free, registration requested. Here is the link: