Newest Schwenkfelder Exhibits Open Monday in Pennsburg

PENNSBURG PA – Family farms, the heart of life in rural southeastern Pennsylvania during the 1800s and early 1900s, are the focus of new museum additions announced Friday (Oct. 30, 2020) by the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center, 105 Seminary St. The exhibits open Monday (Nov. 3) to the public, it said.

Its newest presentations are the result of a three-year, more than $3.6 million capital campaign that included adding new storage for collections, a meeting room, and upgrades for heating, air conditioning, and lighting. Community support, including a $100,000 implementation grant awarded under Montgomery County’s MontCo 2040 program, helped the museum exceed its fund-raising goals.

The exhibits across two galleries show tools needed to run a farm, and provide for a family, over the century-long period. In addition, a Pennsylvania bank barn originally built during 1826 in Towamencin Township was reconstructed on the Heritage Center site. Admission to all its exhibits is free, but reservations are requested for tours of the barn.

About the new exhibits

The Schultz Rural Life Gallery showcases different activities on a farm, from creating cloth from flax to baking bread and seeding fields. The centerpiece of the gallery is an 1825-dated Conestoga wagon of the sort that would have traveled the roads of Montgomery County into the late 1800s, hauling goods and products for farmers.

The Kriebel Rural Entrepreneurship Gallery tells the story of how ingenious farmers created businesses that supplied local needs and later grew into sustainable industries. Previously unseen by the public, its large farm machinery had spent years in off-site storage, awaiting large gallery space. Along with threshers and horse-powered treadmills, visitors can explore the region’s dairy, butchering, musical instrument, and ice harvesting industries.

The heritage center’s Seipt Family Barn has 70 percent of its original internal timbers, with some structural reinforcement and new material for the exterior cladding and stonework. Visitors on tour get the sense of the size, light, and feel of being in an early 1800s century barn. They also learn about the many functions of a barn in feeding animals, storing crops, and milking cows.

Operations and visiting hours

Admission to all its exhibits is free, but reservations are requested for tours of the barn. Barn tours currently are available only in November and December (2020) on Sunday afternoons, and then by reservation. To make a reservation, call 215-679-3103 or send an e-mail to alyssa@schwenkfelder.com.

Gallery visitors are welcome Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sundays from 1-4 p.m., and Thursday nights from 5-8 p.m. All visitors must wear a mask. Guests who consider themselves at high risk for COVID-19, including those over the age of 65, may attend Tuesdays from 9-10 a.m.

Photo from the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center YouTube channel