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    Curious Revolutionaries: The Peales Give Their Encore at Philosophical Hall’s Museum
    (American Philosophical Society News, 2017-07) Marsh, Diana; Mason, Merrill; Ellison, Amy
    THE EXHIBITION NOW ON VIEW at the APS Museum is Curious Revolutionaries: The Peales of Philadelphia. This exhibition displays the work of the Peales, an early American family of patriots, soldiers, artists, politicians, inventors, explorers, naturalists, entrepreneurs, and world-class, ever-busy tinkerers. Their boundless curiosity led them to pursue a wide variety of interests, which ranged from excavating mastodon fossils in upstate New York, to collaborating on inventions like the polygraph, to painting the pantheon of American leaders, to collecting and cataloging thousands of species from all over the world. As his portrait gallery grew and attracted a supportive audience, Charles Willson’s idea for developing a public museum began to take shape. By educating the American public and increasing their understanding of the natural world, Peale believed his museum could help cultivate a more enlightened citizenry and advance America’s prestige around the world. In 1786 (the year he was elected a Member of the APS), he founded the Philadelphia Museum at his home on Third and Lombard Streets, establishing what would become the first successful public museum and a model for future democratic museums. The Peale-Sellers Family Collection (of 19 linear feet, comprising some 38 boxes and 147 volumes) and the Society’s related collections include letters and diaries, as well as sketchbooks, painting palettes, hand-cut silhouettes, and watercolors. Highlights from the APS Museum collections include admission tokens from Charles Willson Peale’s Philadelphia Museum (which was located in Philosophical Hall from 1794 to 1810), miniature fireplace patent models designed by Charles Willson Peale and his son Raphaelle, and several paintings. Together, these important collections reveal the Peales’ influence on early American popular culture through innovations in art, science, and technology. The exhibition is divided into three thematic sections: The Peales and the New Nation, Peale’s Philadelphia Museum, and The Legacy of the Peales. Each section offered us the opportunity to explore lesser- known aspects of the Peale family and experiment with new curatorial approaches.
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    Gathering Voices: Thomas Jefferson and Native America
    (American Philosophical Society News, 2016-07) Mason, Merrill; Marsh, Diana E.
    This spring, the American philosophical society opened its third in a series of exhi- bitions on Thomas Jefferson. Gathering Voices: Thomas Jefferson and Native America explores Jefferson’s effort to collect native languages and its legacy at the APS.There are a num- ber of “firsts”in Gathering Voices. it marks the first time the Aps Museum has displayed one of the Library’s largest collections—the papers, photographs, and audio recordings from some 270 native American and indigenous cultures. it is also the first time the Museum invited two native advisors— Margaret Bruchac (Abenaki) and richard hill, sr. (Tuscarora)—to work with our museum team.Thanks to the newly founded Center for native American and indigenous research (CNAIR), the exhibition piloted a consultative process with native communities whose materials are featured in Gathering Voices. The show also includes some of the Museum’s most extensive multimedia features, including an animated map projection, two interactive touch-screen stations, and audio recordings. The resulting exhibition reflects the close partnerships among the Aps Museum and Library and native American communities.
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    Revisiting the Relevance of Ethnography: Reflections on Extinct Monsters to Deep Time
    (MuseNews, 2023-02) Marsh, Diana
    This short piece reflects on the book Extinct Monsters to Deep Time: Conflict, Compromise, and the Making of Smithsonian's Fossil Halls as it is released in paperback. It argues that ethnography offers an important perspective on the power dynamics of institutions, as well as how museums maintain trust via the negotiation process of creating exhibitions.
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    Charles Whitney Gilmore – The Forgotten “Dinosaur Hunter”
    (Digging the Fossil Record: Paleobiology at Smithsonian, 2013-06) Marsh, Diana; Sues, Hans Dieter
    Charles Whitney Gilmore (1874-1945), affectionately known as “Charlie” to his colleagues, was one of the last major figures of America’s “Golden Age” of dinosaur hunting. It is largely due to his efforts that the Department of Paleobiology is now home to one of the premier collections of dinosaurs and other fossil reptiles in the United States. Early in his career Gilmore commenced scientific studies of dinosaurs and many other groups of extinct reptiles, starting with the rich material from the Marsh Collection. His monographs on the skeletal structure of the armored Stegosaurus (1914), the predatory dinosaurs Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus (1920), and the sauropod Apatosaurus (1936) remain essential references for any serious student of dinosaurs. Working at a time when there were few professional vertebrate paleontologists, Gilmore also received invitations from other institutions, including the Carnegie Museum and the American Museum of Natural History, to study and publish on important specimens of dinosaurs and other fossil reptiles from their respective collections. Many important papers, including the first monograph on early Late Cretaceous dinosaurs from Inner Mongolia (China), resulted from these “extramural” research efforts. The collections of fossil reptiles in the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology offer eloquent testimony of Gilmore’s devotion and efforts and will continue to be an unparalleled resource for research and exhibition.
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    Mary Jane Peale: The Forgotten Peale Painter
    (American Philosophical Society Blog, 2017-07-17) Marsh, Diana
    Peale children were encouraged to pursue art at a time when professional female artists were rare. Mary Jane Peale, Charles Willson’s granddaughter, is the least known of Peale family artists. The APS is fortunate to have her diaries, letters, and notes in its collections. Despite proposals of marriage, Mary Jane remained single, and led a rich life as an unmarried artist. In the 1860s, she traveled Europe—to Paris, Geneva, and Luxembourg, among other places—to see its museums and painting collections. In the 1870s, she mingled with the nation’s intellectual elite in Washington—the Smithsonian’s Joseph Henry and Spencer Baird, as well as biologist Louis Agassiz and geologist Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden. When she died at age 72, her obituary proclaimed that this “well-known portrait painter” was the “last of family of famous portrait painters.” Today, her work is held at the Pennsylvania Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Sheldon Museum of Art, and the Westmoreland Museum of Art.