In 2019, the Mercer Museum, operated by the Bucks County Historical Society, received a $230,000 grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to support a major initiative over a period of two and a half years entitled, “Plus Ultra: Awakening the Mercer Museum Core.”
Inspired by the Latin motto Plus Ultra, or “more beyond,” the Mercer Museum’s founder Henry Mercer spent his life as an archaeologist, historian, tile maker, storyteller, collector, and advocate for human ingenuity.
This experimental project, the first of its kind for the organization, allows the museum to prototype and transform various empty rooms in the original historic core of the Mercer Museum castle into intimate spaces designed for meaningful experiences through the power of objects.
Awaken _______: An Experimental Exhibit offers visitors a reimagined and awakened Mercer Museum experience, reinventing unused museum spaces into areas in which to engage more deeply with artifacts and one another.
These exhibits are working prototypes and are designed to offer “mini-excursions” adjacent to the larger experience of the Mercer Museum historic core.
The final prototype in the Awaken series, on display now through April 30th, 2023, is entitled “Crossroads: Doylestown.” Since Doylestown was founded in the 1700s, its small-town “heart” has been the intersection of what is now Main and State Streets, in the center of town.
In this four-block “square,” and in other blocks nearby as the town expanded, residents have walked, shopped, paraded and gathered for almost three centuries. Most of us have strong emotional attachments to the places we call home – and Doylestown residents are no different.
In creating this experimental exhibit, the museum worked with local residents to identify some places in Doylestown that hold particular meaning for them. These are places where they’ve experienced happiness, sadness, inspiration, worry, regret, pain, anger and pride. Some of the stories they tell reflect long-ago memories. Others describe events from the more recent past.
Although these stories and memories are “local,” the museum hopes that out-of-town visitors will identify with some of the universal emotions and experiences they express. Awaken ______: An Experimental Exhibit has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Learn more at awakenthemercer.org.
PHOTO CAP: Awaken ______: An Experimental Exhibit at the Mercer Museum, photo courtesy of Kevin Crawford