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Two new exhibits opening at Mercer Museum

The Mercer Museum, operated by the Bucks County Historical Society, has announced the opening of two new exhibits from Sunday, May 23rd, through Monday, September 6th, entitled “Measurement Rules and Magnificent Measures! The Hausman-Hill Collection of Calculating Instruments,” opening in the Martin & Warwick Foundation Galleries at the museum.

The first exhibit, Measurement Rules, is a family-friendly, traveling interactive exhibit created by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Measurement Rules explores the meaning of size, height, length, weight and volume through a variety of hands-on activities like giant tape measures, treadmill odometers, balance scales and more!

This playful exhibit, perfect for young children, teaches the fundamentals of measurement through fun questions like, “How many chickens do you weigh? How tall are you in apples or inches or pennies? Can you use your foot as a ruler?”

“We’ve designed this exhibit to enable kids to work together and become more confident in the language of measurement,” explains Anne Fullenkamp, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s Director of Design.

The second exhibit, Magnificent Measures! The Hausman–Hill Collection of Calculating Instruments, is a companion exhibit featuring rare examples of historical measuring instruments drawn from the private collection of Bucks County residents Kathryn Hausman and Jim Hill.

Over the last 50 years, Hausman and Hill have built one of the most extensive private collections of early colonial and 19th-century American measuring implements.

Many of the early measuring tools and complex instruments on display embody the sophisticated scientific principles that helped map, measure, and build early America.

Magnificent Measures! The Hausman–Hill Collection of Calculating Instruments includes instruments for measuring the weather (thermometers, barometers), land (surveying instruments), and the human body (a tailor’s rulers and other implements for gauging the size of arms, legs, waists, feet, heads and fingers for crafting clothing and accessories).

The exhibit showcases the work of significant early makers of measuring implements, such as notable 18th- and 19th-century craftsmen Anthony Lamb, Rufus Porter, Thomas Greenough, Justus Roe, Caleb Leach, and the Chapin Family of Connecticut.

Historic photographs and documents of these makers and their businesses add to the exhibit’s appeal.

The origin of the Hausman-Hill collection traces its roots back to Jim Hill’s youth.

Hill discovered an early love of science and mathematics, which inspired an interest in calculating devices.

These objects, it seemed to him, were more than simply tools or mechanical artifacts.

To Hill, they were “significant, physical manifestations of how Math and Science have long been applied to everyday life.”

Later, Hill’s professional career as a machinist, metalsmith, woodworker, restorer and custom manufacturer soon became intertwined with his collecting interests.

Cory Amsler, the Mercer Museum’s Vice President of Collections and Interpretation, has worked closely with Jim Hill and Kathryn Hausman to make this exhibit a reality.

He notes, “The Mercer Museum is thrilled to present this stunning assemblage of early and often rare measuring tools from a local Bucks County collection. Jim Hill and Kathryn Hausman follow in the footsteps of Henry Mercer in appreciating the workmanship, scientific complexity, and artistry involved in the manufacture of these remarkable pre-industrial age instruments.”

It is the hope of Mr. Hill and Ms. Hausman that Magnificent Measures! inspires visitors to “look to our past as an inspiration for the future – its legacy of practicality, creativity and progress should not to be forgotten.”

Entrance to Measurement Rules and Magnificent Measures! The Hausman-Hill Collection of Calculating Instruments is included with general Mercer Museum admission.

In addition, the Mercer Museum will host related virtual community programs throughout the summer.

Members of the Bucks County Historical Society are invited to preview the exhibits early at a dedicated Members Preview Celebration Day on Saturday, May 22nd, with free timed-ticket reservations for members offered online.

The Mercer Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00am to 5:00pm via timed-entry slots.

Advance tickets are highly recommended. To learn more, visit mercermuseum.org.

PHOTO CAP: Jim Hill and Kathryn Hausman

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