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Nay Aug Park
Phone: 717-346-7186 --
General museum of natural history, science and art.
The Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science and Art was founded by Dr. Isaiah Fawkes Everhart in 1908. A Scranton physician and businessman, Dr. Everhart held a fond interest in natural history. After military service in the Civil War, Dr. Everhart conceived the idea of assembling a comprehensive collection of Pennsylvania's native birds and animals. A skilled taxidermist, he started a collection of mounted specimens which soon expanded into one of the finest and largest collections in the United States. In his will (February 14th 1905), Dr. Everhart specified that $40,000 from his Estate should be used to construct the "Dr.I.F.Everhart general museum to be built in Nay Aug Park in the City of Scranton, Pa.", and that another $100,000 was to be used for an endowment to support the institution.
Three years after his will was prepared, Dr. Everhart was still a man of vigor and continued to add to his already impressive collections. As the collections grew in size, Dr. Everhart recognized the need to build the Museum during his own lifetime. On February 2, 1907, Dr. Everhart publicly announced that he would provide funds and guidance for the creation of a Museum "for the young and old of this generation and for all of those who follow after...for their pleasure and education." Construction soon began and the original building of the Everhart Museum was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1908; the Museum's collections were at that time primarily comprised of Dr. Everhart's ornithological specimens. On July 25, 1908, Dr. Everhart established an endowment fund with $101,000 in investment bonds in order to provide perpetual care for his Museum.
In honor of the Museum's founder, a bronze statue of Dr. Everhart and Lake Everhart were dedicated on May 20, 1911. Dr. Isiah Fawkes Everhart died just five days later on May 25th
The original collections were concerned primarily with natural history, and centered around the ornithological collection which Dr. Everhart had given to the institution. Along with the mounted birds of the ornithological collection, animal and fish were the chief specimens. Plant life and fossils were soon being added in addition to various insect specimens. In 1912, a large collection of Indian relics was added, thus bringing some of the first art objects to the museum. Alfred Twining, Associate Editor of the Scranton Times and foremost botanist in the region, donated his Herbarium to the Museum in 1913, along with many historical objects and photographs. By 1920, the Museum's collections included more than 2,300 bird specimens, 50 fish, 400 mammals, 150 reptiles, 35 amphibians, 2,100 botanical specimens, 25,000 shells, 300 fossils and 800 minerals. The collections in the original building, featuring each specimen, properly labeled, were on permanent exhibition in a series of large exhibit cases.
In this respect, the original Museum displayed its collections in consistance with museum philosophy of the day. As museum additions in the late 1920's made more exhibition space available, however this philosophy was adjusted to include changing exhibitions. Over the years, the Natural History Collection continued to grow. Colonel L.A. Watres led a museum expedition to Panama in 1929; the specimens he retrieved from this trip were donated to the Museum's Collection. The most recent acquisition to the Natural History Collection was a full-scale articulated stegosaurus skeleton, donated by Attorney Michael Roth in 1991.
With the acquisition of the Sturgis Japanese Art Collection in 1917, The Everhart Museum's Collections began to expand into new relms. Similar and increasingly more important acquisitions were made in many academic areas of study, both by gift and, in later years, by purchase. By the late 1920's, the addition of two wings brought an Art Department to the Everhart Museum. In 1929, this Art Department was enriched by a large collection of plaster casts of classical sculpture, donated by Mrs. Benjamin Dimmick. (In later years, these casts were gradually replaced by original paintings).
Mrs. Dimmick, along with Mrs. A.J. Levy, were instrumental in the establishment of the Art Department. Among the earliest acquisitions were a number of paintings by the American Impressionist John Willard Raught (1857-1931), a native of Northeastern Pennsylvania; and other significant works are in the Museum's collection.
The Everhart Museum, in addition to housing exhibitions on Natural History, Science, and Art, has served the public by providing a variety of educational programs throughout the year. Weekly newspaper articles began in 1912, as well as illustrated lectures back at the Museum and in area schools. Since then, the Museum has sponsored lecture series, art classes, preforming arts programs, and numerous other special programs. To support its educational role, a reference library was established in the Museum as early as 1914 to serve as a study center for the museum staff as well as the public. Loan materials from the Museum's Library and its Collections were made available to schools soon after 1914; by the 1940's, a slide and film library had been assembled and was made accessable to schools. In the early years, numerous field-study trips were conducted, as well as collecting expeditions to local sites and to Virginia and Panama. The Museum Staff was instrumental in encouraging the founding or reactivation of the Lackawanna Institute of History and Science (1914), The Scranton Bird Club (1915), the Lackawanna Astronomical Society, and many others.
In order to satisfy Dr. Everhart's original plan, which called for "three buildings forming three sides of a square, one for natural history, one for science, one for art", the Trustees added two wings to the original building in 1928. This addition allowed the Everhart Museum to expand its art department; over a period of years, The Everhart Museum began to amass it's Collections of 19th and 20th Century American Art, European paintings and works on paper, American Folk Art, Native American Art and Ethnographic Art. In 1947, ownership of the Brooks Model Coal Mine in Nay Aug Park was transferred to the Museum. In later years, the mine received improved lighting, working figures and coal cars. In 1962, a new small gallery was built in the basement, where regular changing exhibits could be displayed. The permanent Dorflinger Glass exhibit was installed in 1978. During the 1980's the entire upper floor of the Museum was renovated to accommodate the 19th and 20th Century American Art and Ethnographic Collections and to create a temporary exhibition gallery.
The first months of 1991 saw the opening of a newly renovated American Folk Art and European Painting Galleries on the first floor where a 300 seat auditorium had been located.
In the next few years the Everhart's expansion and modernization will focus on children. Exhibits, interpretations and potentially entire galleries, will be dedicated towards children of younger ages, in hopes of filling the need for more family centered museum experiences.
Kevin O' Brien, Director
Ken Medd, Assistant Director.
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