Simple Machines

The Mercer Museum is a six-story reinforced concrete castle designed by Henry Mercer and completed in 1916. Today, it is one of Bucks County’s premier cultural attractions and a Smithsonian affiliate.

The museum complex features local and national traveling exhibits, as well as a core museum collection of over 50,000 pre-Industrial tools. This permanent collection offers visitors a unique window into pre-Industrial America through sixty different crafts and trades, and is one of the world’s most comprehensive portraits of pre-Industrial American material culture.

The history behind humanity’s development and use of tools was at the core of Henry Mercer’s original interests, and was central to his collecting and research. The Mercer Museum’s collection of everyday objects offers numerous practical examples of the physical and mechanical principles that served as the building blocks of modern technology. A visit to the Mercer Museum reveals essential early American tools on display that demonstrate how simple machines made pre-industrial life easier.

The Mercer Museum education team offers special elementary-level school programs for group visits that are focused on simple machines.

Simple Machines (Grades 3-6, 45-Minute Program)
The Simple Machines Program was inspired by the Mercer Museum’s collection of pre-Industrial hand tools. In this program, students investigate examples of the six simple machines, including the inclined plane, wedge, screw, lever, and more. The students then explore how these machines/hand tools make work easier. Students are encouraged to make connections between the historical tools exhibited in the museum and the fundamental scientific and technological principles that lie behind them.

Simple Machines One-Hour Program:
$50 program fee, plus $5 per student.
Mercer Sampler Program (sampling of two/three school programs in a condensed format):
$50 program fee per program, plus $5 per student.

Simple Machines Pre- and Post-Activities

To learn more or to book your visit, please email Dan Miller, Program Manager of Reservations & Group Tours, at


There are 44 rooms in Fonthill including 10 bathrooms, 5 bedrooms and 18 fireplaces. Completed in 1910 Fonthill boasted modern conveniences- 2 dumbwaiters, an Otis elevator, an intercom buzzer system and phones to communicate within the house.

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