Awaken ______: An Experimental Exhibit

In 2019, the Mercer Museum, operated by the Bucks County Historical Society, received a $230,000 grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to support a major initiative over a period of two and a half years entitled, “Plus Ultra: Awakening the Mercer Museum Core.”

Inspired by the Latin motto Plus Ultra, or “more beyond”, the Mercer Museum’s founder Henry Mercer spent his life as an archaeologist, historian, tile maker, storyteller, collector, and advocate for human ingenuity.

This experimental, capacity-building project, the first of its kind for the organization, allows the museum to prototype and transform various empty rooms in the original historic core of the Mercer Museum castle into intimate spaces designed for meaningful experiences through the power of objects.

Supported by a vast collection of historic artifacts, the project is a new framework for creating Mercer Museum exhibits that engage the community. It is experimental in nature – a project that builds capacity on how to plan exhibits in the future and learn more about the communities the museum wishes to engage.

Awaken ______:  An Experimental Exhibit offers visitors a reimagined and awakened Mercer Museum experience, reinventing unused museum spaces into areas in which to engage more deeply with the collections and one another. It will reintroduce the Mercer Museum in a fresh, unexpected and exciting way. These exhibits are meant to be working prototypes, not polished exhibits in the traditional sense, and are designed to offer “mini-excursions” adjacent to the larger experience of the Mercer Museum core.

This project offers visitors three prototypes to explore over two years:

  • Prototype A:  April 2021 – January 2022
  • Prototype B:  May 6, 2022 – November 27, 2022
  • Prototype C: December 17, 2022 – April 30, 2023

For Prototype C, opening on December 17, 2022, we’re experimenting, and you’re invited!

Opening December 17, 2022, we’re pleased to present an experimental prototype exhibit called “Crossroads: Doylestown”.

Since Doylestown was founded in the 1700s, its small-town “heart” has been the intersection of what is now Main and State Streets, in the center of town.

In this four-block “square,” and in other blocks nearby as the town expanded, residents have walked, shopped, paraded and gathered for almost three centuries. Most of us have strong emotional attachments to the places we call home – and Doylestonians are no different.

In creating this experimental exhibit, we have worked with local residents to identify some places in our town that hold particular meaning for them. These are places where they’ve experienced happiness, sadness, inspiration, worry, regret, pain, anger and pride. Some of the stories they tell reflect long-ago memories. Others describe events from the more recent past.

We’re interested in how you respond to and interact with this experimental exhibit. Although these stories and memories are “local,” we hope that even our out-of-town visitors will able to identify with some of the universal emotions and experiences they express. Do any seem familiar to you? Are you able to apply them to any of the places that you call “home?”

Learn more at our Awaken exhibit website:

Awaken ______: An Experimental Exhibit has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.



More than 60 Early American trades are represented in the Mercer Museum.
Rollo's Fact 6

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