If it’s Chester County, we have it!
Established in 1682 by William Penn, Chester County has an illustrious history.
Did you know… that the Battle of Brandywine was fought on September 11, 1777? …that Kennett Square is known as the Mushroom Capital of the world? …that penicillin was first mass-produced for humans in West Chester?
If you’re looking for a place to acquaint yourself or friends to Chester County, explore our permanent galleries filled with hundreds of objects from our nationally recognized 18th and 19th century decorative arts, manuscript and photo collections. Learn about Chester County’s past and gain insights into our world today here and in our changing exhibits. Our seven galleries tell the story of daily life and work in our region from the 1600s to the present.
Always on view in our permanent exhibits:
Chester County: A View of the Past
This introductory gallery offers a glimpse into the history of the people who settled this region. It interprets the customs, traditions and some of the remarkable natural resources that shaped their lives. Learn about some of the many residents such as Rebecca Pennock Lukens, the first woman ironmaster who operated the forge that eventually became Lukens Steel, and noted African-American writer Langston Hughes, a graduate of Chester County’s Lincoln University. View a collage of photographic portraits of men, women and children from the 1800s and notice the dramatic hand-forged banner “Protect Home Industry” made in Charlestown Township for Henry Clay supporters during the 1844 presidential campaign. Find out about the County's abolition movement which played a national role, and discover Chester County’s agricultural past.
Decorative Arts: Chester County Craftsmanship
This gallery features distinctive furniture made in Chester County from the earliest European settlers in the 1680s to the mid-1800s. The alcoves, uniquely defined with architectural woodwork from several area houses, hold one of the finest examples of spice boxes, desks and wainscot chairs. There are examples of the line-and-berry inlay attributed to the Welsh artisans who settled here in the 1700s. Outstanding tall case clocks made in Chester County are of particular interest for anyone intrigued by technology and local craft traditions.
In History Lab, children of all ages (and children at heart!) can experience history through hands-on learning where you can touch everything. Old fashioned games, "what's it" quizzes, books, puzzles, and dress up make History Lab fun and educational for all ages.