Conserving a Time Capsule: The Wagner Free Institute of Science

  • 30 Sep 2013
  • 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
  • 1700 W. Montgomery Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19121 215-763-6529


Registration is closed

The Wagner Free Institute of Science is a rare surviving
example of a Victorian natural history museum and
educational institution whose building and collections
remain virtually unchanged since the turn of the last
century. Founded in 1855, the Wagner is dedicated to
providing free public education in science, a mission it
continues to serve through a wide array of educational
programs. Its main building was built in 1865 and
designed by John McArthur, Jr., the architect of  Philadelphia’s City Hall.  After designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1990, the Wagner extended its mission to interpret its history and launched a multi-phase conservation program to maintain the integrity of the exceptional ensemble of architecture, furnishings and collections that make the Wagner a time capsule of Victorian science.  

Join the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology (APT-DVC) for a tour and discussion of recent conservation efforts at the Wagner.  The tour will provide an overview of the history of this
remarkable building and a visit to its auditorium, library and exhibit hall, complete with its 1880s museum displays with original glass-topped cases.

Speakers will discuss their recent work, including: a structural assessment of the building roof structure; the
development of a repair strategy for the plaster ceiling of the exhibit hall; rehabilitation of the original heating
system; and an in-progress project involving the design of new interior lighting. The challenges of performing such
work in an intact and well-preserved building that is governed by a conservation philosophy will also be discussed.

The tour will conclude with a light reception in the exhibit hall and a chance to see its upper floor, an area currently
closed to the public.

Speakers include:

Gary W. Gredell, PE, Principal of Gredell & Associates Structural Engineers, specializes in engineering for historic structures.

Gerard Rauth, PE, LEED AP, Principal of LFG, Inc., Engineering and Design Services, a mechanical engineer,
specializes in uniquely engineered systems within historic buildings and museums in building.

Marlene Goeke, a conservator with Building Conservation Associates, Inc. (BCA), who performed an extensive
study of the Wagner’s exhibit hall ceiling and developed a treatment for its conservation.

Philip E. Scott, RA, Principal/Senior Architect at KSK Architects Planners Historians, Inc. specializing in historic
preservation work, both planning and design.

Susan Glassman, the Wagner’s Executive Director, has  guided its preservation program since 1992 and was the
author of the building’s National Historic Landmark nomination.

Registration: Register at Members
free. Non-members $5. Proceeds will be donated to the