Monthly Archives: May 2013

Philadelphia’s Museum without Walls

In Philadelphia, the Association for Public Art has developed a “museum without walls” program to interpret its public art, and it is one of the best “street” tours in the country. The self-guided tours are available in several multiple platforms: You can call phone numbers listed with each sculpture, use a free smart phone app, download the audio to an MP3 player, or scan a QR code (known as a QR or quick response code) on the free “Museum Without Walls” map at locations around the city.

The tour stops are very well-done, with interesting content provided by historians, curators, sometimes the artist or a living relative. For the linked video, for example, they enlist author Kirk Savage, who wrote Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in 19th Century America, historian Harold Holzer, and Millard F. Rogers, Jr., author of Randolph Rogers: American Sculptor in Rome. All knowledgeable, entertaining, and passionate about the subject. Visual content is simple — photographs of the work of art itself.

As with our pastcasts, the three-to-five minute length seems optimal. What Philadelphia does well is provide a place on their website where you can upload your own pictures and add your own thoughts about the sculptures. There is also a set of lesson plans for 4th and 5th grade students. This project was funded by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Heimatbrief: Stories of German-Bohemians


In recent months I’ve worked with the German Bohemian Heritage Society to publish a great new book. Heimatbrief is a 400-plus page collection of the best articles from their journal, published over the last twenty-five years. It will be available through the GBHS and goes on sale at their spring dinner on May 18, 2013.

Some of the stories tell about the search for family history in Bohemia, and are able to share in the great joy found in connecting with our personal past. Other articles honor those who have carried on the work of the GBHS — people like Angie Portner, Karen Hobbs, Paul Kretsch, and Bob Paulson. Time to stop and raise a glass of Schell’s Goosetown Beer to mark the occasion.