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You may come here to see if birds of a taxidermied feather are posed together, but will stay to learn how an artist’s craftsmanship is in the eye of the beholder.
Scranton’s Everhart Museum, a temple supplanted in the austere setting of Nay Aug Park, seamlessly melds science and art. Not an easy feat to accomplish, mind you, when the notion that education and entertainment are mutually exclusive. But this prevailing theory is deferred at Everhart’s masonry façade, and outright debunked within its decorous interior. “I was interested in the mammals, but found myself excitedly discovering the art display upstairs,” muses Wade Bosco, a Taylor resident. “The animals are very well kept and gave me a close-up of birds I could never have appreciated from afar.”
Founded in 1908 by Dr. Isaiah Fawkes Everhart, a Scranton physician who happened to be a skilled taxidermist, the attraction stands in contrast to a rich local coal mining history. The Museum was originally posited as a venue to document various wildlife that inhabited the region. And, while Everhart has expanded well beyond this original goal, it is still home to more than 2,500 stuffed birds, many of which were donated by the doctor himself.
Today, the Museum features an expansive array of artistic pieces, with special focus on American folk art, a grouping of ethnographic works from a variety of world cultures, and a natural history wing. “Ours is the largest public regional museum in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the eighth-oldest in the Commonwealth. You would have to travel over two hours to find a similar facility. For many of our visitors, it may be the only museum they will ever visit,” declares Aurore Giguet, Executive Director of the Everhart.
The non-profit’s first floor comprises a biological science collection, including shells, minerals, and dinosaur casts. While you may not be viewing original fossils, it’s still fascinating to get a close look at the form once taken by a stegosaurus. Also included in the ground-level display is one of Everhart’s three temporary exhibition spots, showcasing domestic and foreign ancestry.
Ascending to the second floor, tourists are greeted by global art samplings, spread out in the Museum’s largest room. Here, the works of John Willard Raught, a regional painter from the early 20th century, are highlighted. While the majority of Everhart’s artful cache vaunts drawings and photography, there is also an assemblage of Dorflinger Glass, forged in nearby Wayne County. The brand was manufactured from 1842 – 1921, and its stemware was coveted by American presidents and European royalty alike.
Another second floor cornerstone is African heritage, punctuated by religious artifacts and musical instruments. Complimenting this installation could be swapped selections on Egyptian textiles, Roman sculptures, and Native American handiwork.
In recent years, the Everhart has enhanced criteria to meet the changing expectations of what a museum is and role it plays throughout the Lackawanna area and beyond. According to Kathy Bell, Director of Development and Marketing, Everhart welcomes over 15,000 guests each year, and relies heavily on support from benefactors. “Our programs serve 11 surrounding counties, yet 85 percent of our funding comes from individuals and corporations based in Lackawanna,” she says. “Private funds make up nearly half of our budget. Every dollar counts and helps us grow and thrive. Whether someone is paying for admission, obtaining a membership, buying a ticket to an event, purchasing something at our store, or contributing to our financial campaign, everything helps. Each gift and level of support is meaningful.”
And with these dollars, Scranton lays claim to a leading educational resource. “With a multidisciplinary and diverse approach, the Everhart creates extraordinary experiences. Our offerings stimulate creative expression and active engagement between art and science. Whether you attend a lecture, workshop, or studio course, our classes are designed for all ages, interests, and abilities,” adds Bell.
For 112 years, the Everhart Museum has delved into the humanities and established itself as an aesthetic hub that unites people of different backgrounds. Fifteen thousand strong, annually.
The Everhart Museum
1901 Mulberry Street • Scranton, PA 18510
By Tom Eccleston
Photo by: Jon YonKondy