American Breweriana Journal January/February 2013

Craft Brewing Exhibit at the Philadelphia History Museum

 By Rich Wagner (ABA 2360)

The Atwater Kent museum was endowed by a family that owned a company that manufactured radios and was known for its collection of local history items. Three years ago it closed and underwent renovations in order to make the facility more user friendly. When they reopened this fall the rotating “Made in Philadelphia” exhibit was devoted to the history and future of craft brewing in the city.

I had given talks there in the 1990s and the museum sponsored a number of my Philadelphia Brewery Tours. I even displayed my collection of embossed Philadelphia brewery bottles in conjunction with some of those events. So when curator Jeffrey Ray contacted me about the new exhibit I knew just who to put him in touch with. I supplied him with information and images and collectors Larry Handy (ABA 2694) and Dale Van Wieren (ABA 3371) supplied him with breweriana.

 Having worked in two of Philadelphia’s earliest craft breweries I was well acquainted with the fact that the industry had evolved over nearly three decades but I was still surprised to see the plethora of items the two collectors had amassed over the years. The museum also interviewed some of the city’s craft brewing pioneers and included an interactive video as part of the exhibit.

 Aside from the exhibits I’ve done for the National Brewery Museum in Potosi, this is the fourth or fifth one I’ve participated in with museums and historical societies throughout Pennsylvania. I’ve always found breweriana collectors receptive to loaning items for exhibits as it provides them with an opportunity to share their collections with a much wider audience. So far the reopening of the Philadelphia Museum at Atwater Kent has been a huge success and I would encourage any ABA members who find themselves in the Quaker City to stop by and see this exhibit. The museum is located at 15 S. Seventh St. and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM. Photographs were provided by the Philadelphia History Museum.

Pic. Captions.

There was a craft brewing timeline to compliment the vast assortment of bottles from Larry and Dale's collections. (Photo by Jeff Fusco).

One wall of the room contained a panoramic view of the bar at McGillans which advertises itself to be the oldest bar in the city. Larry Handy provided a number of items from Philadlphia's brewing heyday. (Photo by Jeff Fusco).

It was surprising to see the number of different kinds of breweriana produced by Philadelphia's craft breweries. (Photo by Jeff Fusco).

Rosemarie Certo, one of the founders of Dock Street Brewing and Philadelphia craft brewing pioneer was interviewed for the interactive exhibit. (Photo by Jeff Fusco).

Patrons can touch the screen to see any number of interviews with the people who own the breweries. (Photo by Jeff Fusco).

Here's a link to a Flickr Album with pics of the exhibit.