You know the Carnegie Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but have you ever visited the Toy Robot Museum in Adamstown or Bill’s Old Bike Barn in Bloomsburg? The Tom Mix Museum in Mix Run? The Houdini Museum in Scranton? Pennsylvania’s many small museums are easy to miss in an age of instant information and superhighways. After reading Therese Boyd’s guide, however, you’ll rush to get off the beaten track to find them. Pennsylvania’s little wonders are as entertaining as they are educational.
Unlike large museums, which display masterpieces of art and other “important” items, small museums feature objects that would otherwise be thrown away and forgotten—everything from spittoons to high button shoes and trolley cars. Some small museums, such as the Richard Allen Museum, serve a serious purpose; others are playful, even eccentric. All offer a fresh perspective on how people have lived and worked.
Boyd, who has visited small museums throughout Pennsylvania, concentrates on the forty-two museums she considers most worth a detour. These range from Kready’s Museum, where visitors can savor the simple pleasures of a country store, to the Vocal Groups Hall of Fame and Museum, where music fans can listen to “golden oldies” and pore over memorabilia (including sequined dresses once worn by the Supremes). Boyd’s personal favorite is the museum in the home of Christian Sanderson, a man who collected literally hundreds of historical relics, not the least of which is the purse found in the apron pocket of Jennie Wade, the only civilian killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. Boyd’s book is a comprehensive, illustrated guide to the best small museums in Pennsylvania. It weaves amusing anecdotes about Boyd’s own visits to the museums along with descriptions of their histories and collections. Her guide provides travel directions as well as complete information about each museum’s visiting hours, website, and contact information.