“When you are looking at an artefact you are looking at a person’s thoughts” (1)
Traditionally, one of the primary roles of museum collections has been to “preserve objects of cultural and scientific importance” (Miller). Museum collections also serve as portals that spark wonder and inquiry as well as creative and intellectual pursuits. College museum collections serve yet another purpose in that they cultivate experiential learning opportunities for students to engage all of their senses, acquiring 21st Century Skills that will allow them to succeed in an ever changing world. As students encounter an object for the first time and consider material, form, function and context they engage reason, systems thinking, problem solving, collaboration, visual literacy, scientific and numerical literacy, information and media literacy and cross-disciplinary thinking. They gain both local and global perspectives as they consider the society, contexts and economics in which the objects were made. Even the most commonest of objects can spark new areas of pursuit.
The collection of The Phillips Museum continues to grow through new gifts from generous alumni and community friends, in addition to purchases acquired by the museum to fill in key areas of the collection to enhance teaching and learning.
This extraordinary American neoclassical mantel from the Federal Period was a gift from an anonymous donor and is currently on view in the Nissley Gallery. The mantel is purported to have been saved from a house located at Pennsylvania Ave. and 4th St. in Washington D.C. that was demolished in the 1930s during a period of modernization in the capital city. It is considered to be among the very best known examples of neoclassical mantels and is rich in Greek and Roman form and ornament. It greatly enhances the College’s Federal Period holdings and will serve as a centerpiece for a summer research project by History Major Dan Burke ‘ 14.
The Reverend John Williamson Nevin (1803-1886)
Jacob Eichholtz (American painter, 1776 to 1842)
Gift of Nancy Swart Meredith and Donald Ray Meredith of West Virginia. The painting was in the home of Edward C. Steward of Washington, Pennsylvania (Nancy Meredith’s maternal grandfather). Nevin served as President of Franklin and Marshall College from 1866 to 1876. The family does not know how it was acquired but family history records members serving in pastorates in various areas in the United States. Thanks to this generous gift, the College now owns 2 of 4 known portraits of Nevin painted by Eichholtz and students will be able to engage in side by side comparisons of the portraits to inquire into the nature of American portraiture.
Spirit Emerging From Stone
Edronce Rukodzi (Zimbabwe, born 1952)
Guruve Serpentine Stone
Moses Masaya (Zimbabwe, 1947-1996)
Gift of ……These two Shona Sculptures are the first contemporary African sculptures in the collection. They compliment a small collection of works on paper and paintings by contemporary African artists from the Bill Hutson Collection.
Decorative Arts: The museum has recently purchased several objects in glass, pewter and ceramics that fill in key areas of the collections that will allow students to consider the role of material, design, form and the social context of objects in everyday life. Highlights include:
Brightcut “lighthouse” pewter (britannia) coffeepot
Israel Trask (1792-1847)
Beverly, Massachusetts, c. 1813-c. 1856
Pewter (britannia) with wood finial and handle
Wedgwood-type basalt coffeepot
Staffordshire, England, 1800-1815
Basalt (refined black stoneware)
Chain-decorated blown decanter
Attributed to Thomas Cains
South Boston Flint Glass Works or Phoenix Glass Works
Boston, Massachusetts, 1812-27
Clear colorless glass
(1) Exhibition of collections of human history, Newfoundland Museum. In Susan M. Pearce. Museums, Objects, and Collections. Smithsonian Books, 1993.
(2) Steven H. Miller in Edward P. Alexander and Mary Alexander. Musuems in Motion. New York: Alta Mira Press, 2008 p. 187.