In 1933, when Milton Hershey began to collect artifacts and relics for his museum, he hoped to attract people to the community and to educate central Pennsylvania’s residents.
Now, with an abundance of artifacts in reserve, the curators at the Hershey Story Museum have chosen to cast some light on some pieces that don’t get a regular rotation in a feature called “Selections from the Collection.”
“We have all these items that are really great and would like to feature them,” Valerie Seibert, collections manager, said.
Beginning earlier this month, the Museum announced that it would display selections of its collection throughout the month. The first set of relics began to be shown on December 3 are Civil War relics and will be out for the public - free of charge and in the grand lobby of the Museum - until Dec. 9, followed by Gaudy Dutch ceramics “designed to appeal to Pennsylvania Dutch.”
“Selections from the Collection highlights the rich, diverse nature of The Hershey Story's permanent collection," Seibert said. "The program specifically features American Indian and Pennsylvania German artifacts that were originally the core of The Hershey Story's holdings. Admission is not required to view Selections from the Collection."
The Civil War relics consist of a brick from Applematox Court House, the site of the General Robert E. Lee’s famed surrender, as well as bullets, muskets and other weaponry from the Battle of Gettysburg.
Many of the relics were found by a man by the name of George Danner, a Manheim collector that was 23 years Hershey’s senior. Hershey bought his collection in 1936 in two installments at $50,000.
“George Danner and Milton Hershey did not have a relationship; their social circles did not overlap. Mr. Hershey's cousin, Ezra Hershey, visited Danner's museum several times, so we believe that Mr. Hershey knew of its existence well before he purchased it,” Seibert said. “Danner died in 1917, and his museum/relic room continued to operate above his dry-goods store in Manheim for several years after his death.
"Milton Hershey purchased the collection in 1936 for $50,000 from the Danner estate. The money was used to build a home for the elderly poor of Manheim, which is still in operation today.”
It is an opportunity to further educate and amuse tourists and residents alike, she said of “Selections from the Collection.”
“Some of these items don’t get displayed often,” Anthony Haubert, a public relations specialist at Hershey, emphasized.
Upcoming exhibits include Dutch ceramics from the early 19th century, beginning Dec. 10 and ending on Dec. 16, and patent medicine bottles “containing mixtures of herbs, sugar, alcohol and some other questionable ingredients were popular” from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23.
“Some of those medicine bottles have some interesting ingredients,” Seibert said.