Philly has never been one to disappoint the public. But then again, there is always a first time for everything.
The City of Brotherly Love -- which has long been known as the place where American democracy was born and where various historic sites slash famous landmarks such as the Valley Forge National Historical Park or the cracked Liberty Bell have made their humble home -- has taken steps to shut down its very own history museum indefinitely. And nobody knows exactly why.
“Mandated by the City Charter as Philadelphia’s official attic for things made and owned” by the state, as Philly.com reports, the oh so glorious Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent on South Seventh Street, closed to the public as of this past Monday for an undetermined period of time after negotiations with its potential partner institution, Temple University, to “allow the museum to reduce or even eliminate the need for a $250,000 city subsidy” were severed for unknown reasons.
The unexpected move surprised even City Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis himself, who didn’t know the deal had fallen through until he read a story by Stephan Salisbury in the Inquirer recently.
“I’m upset,” said DiBerardinis. “We thought we had a partner, and now we don’t.”
He even mentioned to The New York Times that he is still doesn’t “have clarity” about the entire situation and is “still wondering what happened.”
As of next week, normal public visiting hours to the museum will no longer be in effect, meaning that the over hundreds of thousands of artifacts, paintings and photographs spanning“334 years of the city’s history, ranging from 1682 to the present day,” as city spokeswoman Deana Gamble notes, will not have a chance to continue telling the story of how the country began.
Everything from President George Washington's desk, a compass that was used during the first survey of Philadelphia over 300 years ago, and a native Lenape tribe beaded wampum belt, to sports equipment such as Mike Schmidt's batting helmet, the spray-painted gold basketball shoes used during the 2005 Mummers Parade up Broad Street, as well the 1980 Phillies World Series championship commemorative program, will now be stepping out of the national spotlight for the time being.
In the meantime, however, the museum will keep holding onto its fine collection as city officials try to chart a new way forward, DiBerardinis says.
American history has ventured time and time again through both victories and losses, ups and downs. The Philly museum’s quick and uneasy closing is indeed a great loss -- an even bigger ‘down,' especially in the midst of the Fourth of July holiday. Yet though “options are now more limited,” as DiBerardinis states, “[the city is] still committed.”
With this continued commitment, anything can be possible. Let’s take a stand and celebrate America’s birth and historic roots. United We Stand. Always.
Happy 4th, y'all!