Charles Wilson Peale and the Birth of the American Museum

Charles Wilson Peale,

Charles Wilson Peale, "Self Portrait of the Artist in His Museum," 1822

An Illustrated Presentation by Samuel Strong Dunlap, PhD, Descendant of Charles Wilson Peale
Date: Friday, April 16th
Time: 7:00 PM
Admission: $5
* Location: Coney Island Museum, 1208 Surf Ave. Brooklyn (please note changed location!)

Long time historian and editor of the Peale Family Papers Dr. Lillian B. Miller (now deceased) described Charles Willson Peale as a true renaissance man. Peale is perhaps best remembered today as the founder of America’s first cabinet-of-curiosity like museum-the Philadelphia Museum (later the Peale Museum)-which housed a diverse collection of botanical, biological, and archaeological specimens and can be viewed in the image above. Famously, Peale’s museum also pioneered the habitat group-or natural history diorama-an artform memorably perfected by such museums as the American Museum of Natural History and Chicago’s Field Museum in the early 20th Century.

In this illustrated lecture, we will learn about Peale the museologist, and examine how his museological work continuously overlap with his inventive, artistic, scientific, literary and exploratory interests. Peale was a friend or acquaintance with most of the military, scientific, diplomatic and foreign individuals who played significant roles in our revolutionary war and the early growth of our democracy.

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