Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia has a long history. In 1774, the building hosted the First Continental Congress. It was also home to the Library Company, the American Philosophical Society, and the First Bank of the United State. However, the hall’s most recent exhibit does not examine its own history. Instead, its newest exhibit highlights posters created as part of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and 1940s.
Executive director Michael Norris curated the pop-up exhibit, the first in recent memory that is not directly related to Carpenters’ Hall itself. The exhibit is the institution’s first step in expanding programming leading up to the 250th anniversary of the First Continental Congress. Norris told WHYY, “I wanted to send a signal to the community that we are interested in a larger programmatic lens.”
The new exhibit features original prints of WPA posters that were made to promote tourism within the United States. WPA administrators hoped that the posters would help revive the tourism industry during the Depression. The posters on view at Carpenters’ Hall depict iconic Philadelphia buildings, including Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, and the Nio-mon Japanese Temple Gate in Fairmount Park (which is no longer standing). The exhibit also includes two posters that depict Carpenters’ Hall itself.
The WPA posters exhibit will be on display until the end of March.