Item Details

"Charles Willson Peale's Philadelphia Museum: A Space of Amusement, Education, and American Citizenship."

Tawney, Mical
Thesis/Dissertation; Online
Tawney, Mical
Nelson, Louis
Wilson, Richard
Edelson, Scott
In 1786, artist and natural historian Charles Willson Peale started the Philadelphia Museum. His Museum became one of the landmarks of the city of Philadelphia during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. People from all over came to Peale’s Museum of natural history. Originally located in his art studio, the Museum changed its location throughout its existence. In 1794, Peale moved the Museum into the American Philosophical Society (APS) Hall, and in 1802, his collections were partially moved into Independence Hall. It occupied both the APS Hall and Independence Hall from 1802 to 1811. From 1811 to 1827, the Museum was solely located in Independence Hall. Organized in the Linnaean method, Charles Willson Peale sought to provide his visitors with an amusing experience, an exposure to enlightened modes of thought, and an interaction with various themes that informed their personal and collective senses as American citizens. The Philadelphia Museum had a clear impact upon the American people: not only did it provide visitors with a better understanding of the natural world and a sense of joy and happiness, it also provided visitors with a stronger sense of American identity. At the heart of this thesis is an effort to explore the social and physical elements to the Museum. Although the Museum was visited by many, its exhibits reflected the societal exclusion of certain groups and the racial hierarchies inherent to late eighteenth and early nineteenth century America. Chapter One explores the city of Philadelphia and the history of Peale’s Museum. Chapter Two is devoted to understanding Peale’s Museum as a space of amusement. Chapter Three discusses how the Museum functioned as a space of science and education, paying particular attention to the physical organization of the Museum. Chapter Four examines how the Philadelphia Museum functioned as a place that cultivated a sense of American citizenship. Using the physical organization of his Museum and various exhibits, Peale not only provided a lens through which the American people could understand their place in the seemingly chaotic world around them, but he also created amused, enlightened, moral, refined, and inventive American citizens.
University of Virginia, Department of Architectural History, MARH (Master of Architectural History), 2017
Published Date
MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Libra ETD Repository
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