Last weekend Joe and I visited the Mercer Museum in Doylestown. It is amazing.
It's a seven-story concrete building conceived and built by Henry Mercer -- the same man who built Fonthill Castle. He needed it to store the massive amount of stuff he collected. It has everything from an actual stagecoach to ivory hair combs. It's a vast journey through the everyday artifacts of America.
Because we are old and decrepit, we took the elevator (a modern addition) to the seventh floor and worked our way down the many unique staircases. We began at the gallows, the centerpiece of the Crime and Punishment exhibit. You stand underneath, where there's a sign instructing you to look up through the open trap door.
The only thing that would make this creepier would be to have a noose dangling from the cross-piece.
After considering the tools of crime, apprehension, and punishment, we walked over to the main part of the museum. Surrounding -- and sometimes hanging from -- the seven-story atrium are various form of transportation, including the aforementioned stagecoach, a Conestoga Wagon, a one-horse shay, a whaling boat, a horse-drawn fire engine, and much much more. Oh, so much more!
Each level has many little galleries containing collections of ... everything! There's a clock collection. There's a candy mold collection. There's a medical equipment and surgeon's tools collection (dig the 19th century toker), a hope chest collection, a cigar store statue collection, a musical instruments collection, a rifle collection -- hell, there's even a vampire kit! (Just so you know, the vampire kit was later discredited as being a hoax made up in the early 1900s. I'm kind of disappointed by that.)
By the time we got to the first floor, we were more than ready to exit into the air-conditioned visitor center. Yep, despite the fact that the building is made of concrete and is seven stories tall, it's not air conditioned. I'm glad they had several big fans scattered strategically around the place.
To be sure, Mercer was a bit of a crackpot -- okay, eccentric. Many visionaries are. And boy oh boy, I'm glad he was!
I took more pictures than the ones I linked, so here's the entire Flickr set. And honestly, it's just a tiny drop in the bucket.
Want to go? Come and visit! We'll make a day of it!