Philadelphia Commercial Museum

Classes from public schools among the exhibits, Commercial Museum. From a photo scrapbook of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, taken circa 1910.

The Philadelphia Commercial Museum, also known as the Civic Center Museum, existed for nearly a century.  Opening its doors in 1897, this one time Philadelphia landmark exhibited objects and materials of commerce, most notably artifacts from the World’s Fairs.

The purpose of the Commercial Museum was to  increase cultural awareness and international connections, especially with regard to industry.  Business and the economy were a strong focus of the institution, and in fact, translation services were offered to companies from around the world.  In 1926, the newly created US Chamber of Commerce took over much of the Commercial Museum’s pioneering role.

For a closer look at the Commercial Museum check out the excellent online exhibit at the Independence Seaport Museum.

Also make sure to look at their great flickr stream for gorgeous archival photographs of the museum like the one above.

Former Commercial Museum artifacts are now part of many Philadelphia collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Penn Museum, the Free Library, the Mutter Museum as well as the Temple Anthropology Lab.

Additionally, those remaining artifacts without proper provenience were taken by the The Slought Foundation and now compose their Commercial America archives.  This ongoing public project lends artifacts to individuals in order to give “orphaned artifacts” a second life in active circulation.  For information see their site.

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