Pasto Museum features hand-on demonstrations at Ag Progress Days

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Pasto Agricultural Museum will offer hands-on activities incorporated into new exhibits to connect visitors to their agricultural past -- allowing them to grind grain, peel apples and yank rope through pulleys to lift weights, to name a few -- during Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 12-14.

"At the museum, we connect the science, inventions and agricultural history to the present day, and our past comes alive as we share how things worked and how work got done," said Rita Graef, curator. "We help visitors understand what life and work was like 100 to 200 years ago.

"It's so fascinating!" she added. "Many older visitors bring their own stories and experiences of many years ago having used pieces like the ones they see in the museum."

Also, outside the museum during Ag Progress Days, a timber-framing demonstration will occur. Over the course of the three-day expo, the Friends of Ohio Barns and the Timber Framers Guild will hand-hew timbers, cut mortise and tenon joints, and assemble a garden-shed-sized timber frame structure.

They will use and display historic and reproduction tools that have been employed for centuries to construct large barns, outbuildings and homes. About mid-day on Thursday, the Pasto Museum will hold a "barn raising" to set up the structure. Ag Progress Days visitors can check at the museum, near the information booth toward the top of Main Street, on Thursday morning for details and exact time.

The timber frame shed will be available for purchase through the Pasto Museum silent auction. Running Tuesday and Wednesday, the annual silent auction is the museum's single biggest fundraiser, and this year proceeds will support installation of new exhibits for the dairy and poultry collections.

"We want to bring our entire milk bottle collection to the public, as well as feature more of the history of the dairy industry, starting from when the 'dairy' was a small room in the rear of every farm wife's kitchen, and making butter was one part of the income on a diverse family farm," said Graef.

"The items in our poultry collection have not been exhibited in several years, and we are eager to share not only the history of these objects, but also the research that continues at Penn State."

(Learn about the history of poultry at Penn State.)

The silent auction features some noteworthy items this year, including a John Deere tractor donated by Valley Ag and Turf, and a framed original drawing by Reedsville artist Anne Fisher, called "Who Spilt the Milk?" featuring a mother and children in an Amish interior.

Also at Ag Progress Days, the Pasto Museum is partnering with the Center County Historical Society and Centre Furnace Mansion to display "Everyday Objects -- Fancy Forms and Familiar Functions." Another hands-on exhibit, its objects would have been a part of everyday life in central Pennsylvania households in the 19th century.

"While commonplace in use, the objects offer beautiful and often handcrafted examples of fancy forms," Graef explained. "Artisan-made stoneware, redware, china, textiles, baskets, sewing and butter-making tools are in the context of their uses in two settings."

The recently enlarged and renovated Pasto Agricultural Museum is located on East 10th Street near the top of Main Street on the Ag Progress Days site. It provides a comprehensive view 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, from 4,000 B.C. to the 1940s.

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

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. 12; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 13; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 14. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogress, and Facebook users can find the event .

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