5 things to like about the Reading Public Museum

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You don’t realize the impact of the Susquehanna River on Rob Evans and his art until you see the 40-piece-plus exhibit at the Reading Public Museum. I started to count, became involved in the art and lost count. But it’s obvious the wide, shallow and beautiful river has been redirected to the intriguing museum in Reading, Pa., sitting on the bank of Wyomissing Creek, some 45 miles away. Evans’ ‘Mystery and Metaphor’ exhibit closes Dec. 7. Also of interest: York County’s Rob Evans artwork: ‘A gift for making the ordinary extraordinary’.
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We get no greater pleasure on this blog than hearing that we’ve helped a reader discover something new. Just today, for example, several readers commented that they weren’t aware of the preserved locks of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal until they saw this story: Remains of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal await exploration in York County, Pa.

So we hope this post acquaints you – or re-acquaints you – with York County-based artist Rob Evans’ work. And perhaps this post will heighten your sense of discovery about the Reading Public Museum, repository of Evans’ exhibit “Mystery and Metaphor.”

Ground was broken for the museum in 1925, with hands-on learning its specialty. A museum history says that educational approach was the direct result of the initiative of educator Dr. Levi W. Mengel, the museum’s founder and first director.

Here are five things to like about this Berks County museum:

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The Reading Public Museum’s mission statement: ‘The mission of the Reading Public Museum, a dynamic center of lifelong learning and discovery, is to educate, enlighten and engage current and future generations through the collection, preservation and interpretation of objects of art, science and civilization.’
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1. Rob Evans’ “Mystery and Metaphor” exhibit is on display there until Dec. 7.  A museum publication gives this assessment of the exhibit: “The pieces draw unconventional metaphors from the local, natural landscape and commonplace people, place and things near his home and studio along the Susquehanna River.”

2. My favorite Evans piece at the museum is “Cicada.” It’s neat to “see” the view from the beautiful home Roundtop, the former family home overlooking the Susquehanna where the artist spent much time as a youth. That painting, from high on a Hellam Township hill, captures a show of fireworks over the Susquehanna – at eye level. The wonderful views from Roundtop in Evans works ensure that York County is all through this Reading-based museum.

3. In a nice piece of serendipity around the corner from Evans’ work, two pieces from another artist with York County roots, Michael Kessler, are exhibited. A label said Kessler was born in Hanover and lives in Santa Fe.

4. The Reading museum thinks big. Its collections take in the region, state and world – the kind of museum you’ll find in a big city. For example, its “Deadly Medicine – Creating the Master Race” explores the Nazis and genocide.

5. Who couldn’t like a museum with a real mummy on display and whose holdings include a planetariumarboretum and easily navigable and informative website?

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This view of the ‘Mystery and Metaphor’ exhibit shows the other half from the one at top. A witf reviewer wrote about Evans’ work: ‘Rob Evans is known for artwork which has a dreamlike, mysterious quality.’

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We’ll end the tour with the public approach to the exhibit through other galleries. Evans’ altar piece, center, greets visitors. Its themes tie into the Dover intelligent design case of 2005. Even more intrigued? This painting, “Origins,” drew a comment from a father to his young son in a weekend visit: ‘You got to look at the whole thing.’ For audio of an interview with Rob Evans in his Hellam Township, York County, studio, check out: ‘Mystery and Metaphor.’

Also of interest:

Other YorkTownSquare posts involving Rob Evans art and work as a curator.

All YorkTownSquare stories and photos from the start.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.

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