SNAP @ The Wagner Free Institute of Science
Youth Art Gallery,
April 15, 2016 - November 13, 2016
Terminal A-East Baggage Claim
(Open to the Public)
The Wagner Free Institute of Science, Philadelphia, was founded in 1855 by William Wagner (1796-1885), a Philadelphia merchant, philanthropist, scientist, and an avid lifelong collector of natural history specimens. Wagner believed that education of the sciences should be available without cost to everyone. In the early 1850s, he offered free lectures from his home and used his extensive collection of specimens as a resource. His classes were so popular that by 1855 he relocated the lectures to a larger public space and hired additional teachers. By 1859, with increased attendance, Wagner began construction on a permanent location at 17th and Montgomery Streets near Philadelphia’s Temple University. The building opened to the public in 1865 and today, more than 160 years later, the Wagner Free Institute remains nearly unchanged from its 19th-century origins.
The Wagner’s museum collection of over 100,000 specimens is a rare example of a Victorian-era science museum and is considered “one of the largest systematically arranged collections on display in the United States.” Still in active use, the museum’s specimens are specifically arranged to teach science and many feature their original handwritten curatorial labels.
In 1990, the Wagner Free Institute was named a National Historic Landmark, “in recognition of the importance of its free education mission and of its contributions to science education and research.” Its public science courses remain the oldest program devoted to free adult education in the United States.
Today, in addition to adult courses, the Wagner Institute serves more than 10,000 children annually through a variety of programs including school field trips, science lessons, GeoKids – an interdisciplinary program that combines science and writing for neighborhood elementary schools, Wagner-to-Go – brings the Institute on the road, and SNAP – an interdisciplinary program that focuses on science and the arts for middle school students.
This exhibition features artwork by 8th-grade students from the Philadelphia School District’s Kearny School. The 6-week-long program directly supports the school’s science curriculum, enabling students to better understand and creatively translate what
they have learned into artistic forms of expression. Scientists and artists share many like-minded processes including observation, curiosity, experimentation, discovery, and persistence -- all traits likely shared by William Wagner himself.
Museum detail a, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Close up of Three Pieces Hand Applying Texture