Monday, October 14, 2013

Oddities and Curiosities: The Greene County Historical Museum

Victorian hair art, created from the strands of many generations of one family.  Just one of the strange and wonderful things to be viewed at the Greene County Historical Museum. 
I love when something is not obviously trying to be weird and wonderful and turns out, nevertheless, to be as weird and wonderful as can be. Yesterday afternoon, my daughters and I headed to the Harvest Festival at the Greene County Historical Museum, located in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. Housed in what was, for many, many years, a poor farm/insane asylum, which operated from the late 1860s until 1964 (and is supposedly haunted btw), the Museum now collects any and all artifacts that pertain to the history of the County. There is a Clockworks Room, a Railroad Room, rooms and exhibits devoted to the mining industry, the Union Army, birdhouses, medicine, printing, weaving, the evolution of the telephone and the trucker hat, Rain Day umbrellas. If you can name it, it's probably in the museum somewhere. The thing is, the museum seems to be curated by locals; there isn't the heavy-handed categorizing and curating you find in most museums. This makes the museum seem at once more authentic and whimsical ... and fun to explore (although it's probably not all that great for the preservation of the objects, I'll admit). Here's just a sampling of what you might find:

An owl, unlabeled. So I can't really tell you what kind it is. 
Mason Jars upon Mason Jars. Otherwise known as "Pinterest Heaven."
Cause nothing says "Welcome to the Doctor's Office" like a skeleton in a bowler hat. 
Medicine jars and antique medical instruments. 
One of the upcoming Halloween tours would be the perfect time to visit, because many of the mannequins on display are downright creepy. 
As are these Three Little Pigs puppets used in one of the local theaters. Stop looking at me, pigs.  
On the history of sound.
Waaaait a minute ... I think I had one of these. 
In the military room. Obvs. 

These were just stunning. 

Part of the fun is exploring the workhouse, which was originally a farm and was later transformed to accommodate the "inmates" of the poor farm. The architecture shifts from room to room, space to space, taking you on a journey of the building's evolution.
The former clockworks of the former County Courthouse. They will demonstrate for you how the machine actually works, if you ask. 
They were also demonstrating how this 18th-century loom operated yesterday, which was actually extremely interesting to learn more about (especially for a nine-year-old obsessed with the Rainbow Loom). 
A Commemorative Boy Scout quilt. 
An antique longhorn chair. Saddle up. It also seems to have a mustache.  
I always feel like, my wallpaper's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? I swear I see an owl. 
If you live in the region of Southwestern PA, this place is worth a visit. Especially during late October, at one of the Society's frightful events (the Western PA Paranormal Hunters will share results of their investigation of the GCHS Museum and the W.A. Young Foundry on October 18th from 6-10 and the Museum will hold a Flashlight Fright Night on October 26th from 7-11). More information about these events can be found here. J/A
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