When Frank Wheaton Jr. first visited the Corning Museum of Glass in the early 1960s, it caught his ire. On display were many marvelous works of glass?treasures forged of sand, wood, soda ash, and silica that represented the dawning of the American glass industry. Frank's problem? Those shiny, fragile masterpieces were being exhibited in New York and not where they were birthed: New Jersey.
As the grandson of glass magnate Dr. Theodore Corson Wheaton?whose glass pharmaceutical bottles were instrumental in giving rise to the Millville glass monarchy of the Wheaton company?Frank claimed his birthright and created Wheaton Village now known as Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center. The organization has a mission to engage artists and audiences in an evolving exploration of creativity, and has appealed to audiences of all ages for over four decades with its diverse traditional and contemporary arts programs, classes, workshops and exhibitions. Also on-site is The Museum of American Glass, housing one of the most comprehensive collections of American glass in the country, from the first glass bottles made in America, to celebrated works by Dale Chihuly and other contemporary artists who work with glass. Visitors can also experience the art of glassmaking, ceramics and flameworking in the Artists Studios, and the museum stores offer traditional and contemporary art in a variety of mediums.
It's a child's paradise in the Garden State Discovery Museum, where pint-size patrons can climb up rock walls, cavort with wildlife, and imagine themselves as vets, doctors, and news anchors in hands-on exhibits. Red-eared turtles lounge in the wildlife area, inviting kids to gaze upon their slimy shells, and science displays teach guests about gravity, lava, and light.
Imaginative play and exploration blossom in the natural world of Camden Children's Garden, where families encounter enchanting themed gardens and rides. Inside the four-acre horticultural playground, visitors walk among an imagined version of Ben Franklin's workshop and spot monarchs and black swallows inside the tropical environment of the butterfly house. Outside, an apatosaurus looms over the dinosaur garden, watching as mini archeologists uncover dino bones and the broken lamp he hid from his mother 80 million years ago.
Children stretch their imaginations as they live like their favorite fictional characters in the storybook garden and hunt for faeries in the Irish garden. Grownups can take a break while kids perch on rides such as a biologically diverse carousel that takes little ones up 30 feet and back down. The Arrow River train takes up to 38 children, 22 adults, and one confused buffalo on a 600-foot journey through miniature landscapes and attractions such as the historic Camden Caboose.
The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) currently preserves and oversees acres of land containing Cape May's most notable Victorian-era landmarks, relying on a staff of 160 and nearly twice as many volunteers. At its inception, though, MAC existed purely as a volunteer effort. Passionate people came together with a simple mission: preserve area history. The founding members first joined forces to rescue the Emlen Physick Estate mansion?built in 1879?from demolition. Successfully fending off the bulldozers, they went so far as to restore it through volunteer man-hours alone.
Having preserved the mansion, the MAC crew decided to transform their volunteer-only organization into a staffed outfit. The new, full-time staff members did more than just run the mansion site; they set their sights, quite literally, higher. They restored the 1859 Cape May Lighthouse, a towering landmark that had been closed to the public for almost 50 years. They also undertook the restoration, repair, and oversight of Fire Control Tower No. 23, the last uncompromised lookout tower erected during World War II. They now oversee all sites, maintaining over 100 of years of history, which is presented through tours, events, and chats with talkative ghosts.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) celebrates art from America's entire history. Its galleries take visitors on a chronological trip through the country's ever-changing aesthetic landscape, with special attention paid to sculptures, paintings, and paper works. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts also trains the next generation of artists, with full-time degree programs at the bachelor and masters levels.
When Samuel Vaughan Merrick and William H. Keating brought The Franklin Institute to life in 1824, it was to honor the life and achievements of Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin. In the decades since, the Institute has hosted further forward thinkers such as Nikola Tesla, who demonstrated wireless telegraphy in 1893, and helped advance science and technology, hosting the first public demo of an all-electronic TV system in 1934.