State Museum of Pennsylvania

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The State Museum of Pennsylvania, 300 North Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The State Museum of Pennsylvania is a non-profit museum at 300 North Street in downtown Harrisburg, run by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to preserve and interpret the region's history and culture.[1] It is a part of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex. While it is officially named the State Museum of Pennsylvania, members of the public, as well as official publications, sometimes refer to the facility as the William Penn Memorial Museum; the museum's central hall features a large statue of Penn.[2]


The museum includes a multi-media planetarium, as well as four floors of exhibits and displays covering Pennsylvania history from prehistoric times through current events. Visitation averages 315,000 people annually. Among the features are a large collection of artifacts and displays related to the American Civil War, as well as an extensive collection of industrial and technological innovations. Artwork, paintings, dioramas, and other audio-visuals (Blaine) aid in the interpretation. There are over three million objects in the museum's collections.[1] The museum has many exhibits that showcase Pennsylvania history. The state museum divided there exhibits into three different categorizes; permanent, changing and online exhibits. Permanent exhibits are things that have been there since the beginning. One of the popular exhibits is Memorial hall, which is a hall dedicated to the founder of Pennsylvania William Penn. Also, there is a section called Pennsylvania Icons that has more than 350 items in the collection. This is collection has everything that influenced the state of Pennsylvania and what it is today. The second category is changing, which is keeping the visitors updated on what is happening or going to happen the exhibit. For example, on of the mammal exhibits is getting little new updates to the different exhibits.The newest things added to the state museum is the online exhibits that can be found on their official website ( Not only can you look at different exhibits online you they are interactive as well.[3]


On March 28, 1905, Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker signed legislation creating The State Museum of Pennsylvania.The museums purpose during the time was to for the "preservation of objects illustrations the flora and fauna of the state and mineralogy, geology, archaeology,arts and history."[5]The State Museum of Pennsylvania mission statement was influenced by the many other state museums that were already established such as New York, Illinois and Indiana.Later in the year 1905,Governor Pennypacker of Pennsylvania signed Act 481 which is what gave the State Museum their 20,000 start-up money for the museum. March 1, 1907, the museum staff and collection moved into the Executive Office Building. It became part of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1945, and moved to its present building in 1964. It is located adjacent to the State Capitol Building. The building is round and the museum exhibits are located on the ground, first, second, and third floors, with offices of the museum staff and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission on the fourth and fifth floors.[1] The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Silverman, Sharon (2005). The State Museum of Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Trail of History Guide. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-3214-2.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Exhibits".
  4. ^ "History of the Museum" (PDF).
  5. ^ "History of State Museum of Pennsylvania" (PDF).
  6. ^ "NRHP list of weekly actions, 7/28/14 through 8/1/14". National Park Service. Retrieved 2014-08-26.

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Coordinates: 40°15′57″N 76°53′07″W / 40.2658°N 76.8852°W / 40.2658; -76.8852