Agricultural museum expansion almost finished at Ag Progress Days

July 10, 2009

With a major renovation and addition nearly complete, the Pasto Agricultural Museum is giving visitors a glimpse of the museum's future, which will include more exhibits highlighting the history of farming and rural life. Both the new and old sections of the facility will be open for Ag Progress Days in August. This year the traditional silent auction will be held in the east end of the new section.

"The expansion includes the installation of heating and air-conditioning systems that will serve the entire structure and will allow us to increase our educational programming and to schedule educational tours year-round," said volunteer curator Daryl Heasley, professor emeritus of rural sociology.

The 5,200-square-foot addition -- which boosts the facility’s size to 8,400 square feet -- will permit a substantial increase in the current number of displays, thus allowing the "showcasing" of the collection to Penn State faculty, staff and students, as well as to visitors from around the globe. In addition, it will provide workspace for staff, volunteers and student interns.

The museum is still undergoing construction of professionally designed displays, but these efforts are being delayed until after the 2009 Ag Progress Days. "We invite folks to come visit our current exhibits and offer suggestions regarding enhanced museum offerings," said Heasley. "Please, help the museum grow. We expect to schedule a grand opening in 2010."

The nearly 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, from 4,000 B.C. to the 1940s. All preserved items in the collection represent functions of rural life when work on the farm and in the home was performed by human and animal power only. Nothing requiring any other energy sources is exhibited.

"Our goal is to make the Pasto Agricultural Museum a center for linking early agricultural innovations to current farming practice by honoring and learning from the past while looking to improve the future," said Heasley. "The enlarged and renovated museum building will allow enhanced educational programming to reach this aim.

"The programs will target diverse groups, including clubs in the College of Agricultural Sciences and other students from across the University, elementary and secondary school classes, retirement residences, and visitors to the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Ag Progress Days," he added. "Expanding, revising and updating the museum’s Web site (http:/ will supplement this effort."

Heasley said the museum's Ag Progress Days silent auction will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 18 and Wednesday, Aug. 19. More than 300 antiques and other items will be available for purchase. A large cash and carry section on Tuesday will allow attendees to buy items without needing to return on Wednesday to pick them up.

Bidding will close promptly at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and successful bidders will pick up their items after payment is processed Wednesday evening, or they can pay an additional 15 percent for handling.

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. 18; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 19; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days Web site at

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Last Updated July 13, 2009