Enhanced Pasto Agricultural Museum is a highlight of Ag Progress Days

University Park, Pa. -- The recently enlarged and renovated Pasto Agricultural Museum -- which will be formally dedicated at Penn State's 2011 Ag Progress Days -- will provide visitors with an even clearer glimpse into farming's past.

Offering exhibits highlighting the history of agriculture and rural life, the now 8,400-square-foot facility showcases an intriguing collection of artifacts. It is located on East 10th Street near the top of Main Street on the Ag Progress Days site.

During this year's event, Bruce McPheron, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, will honor donors who gave significantly to the drive to improve the facility.

"The campaign funded the expansion, which added 5,000 square feet to the existing museum, allowing us to present a more sophisticated educational experience," he said. "The project has helped to provide a more comprehensive view, to a larger audience, of the era when energy for work was supplied by the power of humans and domesticated animals."

The approximately 1,300 items in the collection are concentrated in the time period between 1775 and 1940, although the assemblage of objects spans 6,000 years, or from 4,000 B.C. to the 1940s, noted Rita Graef, who recently was named curator of the Pasto Museum.

"Our emphasis is to provide visibility for early technological developments in agriculture between 1775 and 1940," she said. "The mission of the Pasto Agricultural Museum is to provide the general public with an understanding and appreciation for early agriculture and rural life, especially in Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States.

"The enlarged and renovated museum building allows enhanced educational programming to reach this aim," she said.

Graef brings a wealth of experience to the curator position. She came to Penn State in 1999 as a client-development manager responsible for representing the portfolio of Outreach and Cooperative Extension programs to companies and associations.

Prior to joining the university she served as product manager for InterMetro, a leading manufacturer of material handling, storage and transport products for food service, health care and industry. There, she was responsible for developing products and marketing to diverse audiences. She also worked as a design manager and representative for Designship, a product-development consulting firm, and as an industrial designer for Lutron Electronics, premier manufacturer of architectural lighting-control systems, where she developed user interfaces, products and marketing materials.

Graef has served as volunteer exhibit designer for the Mercer Museum, Doylestown, and designed several museum exhibits and graphic materials. The Mercer Museum includes almost 30,000 items, ranging from hand tools to horse-drawn vehicles, assembled in an encyclopedic collection of pre-Industrial Revolution tools and trades.

Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest benefits from her work as volunteer co-chair of celebrations -- ensuring that music, food and activities fill the day for more than 70,000 visitors while they await the fireworks.

For more information about the Pasto Agricultural Museum visit the museum's website at http://agsci.psu.edu/pasto online.

Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 16; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 17; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 18. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website at http://apd.psu.edu/ online. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogress.

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Last Updated July 28, 2011