Past Community Gallery Exhibitions

Past Community Gallery Series:


Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam

October 3, 2014 – May 26, 2015

Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam presents the stories of young American soldiers going to war in Vietnam through graffiti left on troopship’s bunks. Every bunk has at least one story to tell, and the artwork and slogans capture the era’s politics, military pride, humor and anti-war sentiments. The exhibit was developed by Art and Lee Beltrone, founders of the Vietnam Graffiti Project. VGP was created to preserve the canvasses that were discovered aboard former troopships and displaying them in museums across the country. This exhibit, which features canvasses created by troops hailing from the PA/NJ/DE area, is part of the Community Gallery series and is included with regular Museum admission. 

SS United States

March 7- September 14, 2014 

SS United States: Charting a Course for America's Flagship explores the glamorous past and challenging present of one of the most famous passenger ships of all time. The exhibit spotlights the ship's Philadelphia connection, its heydey during the 1950s and 1960s, and the SS United States Conservancy's efforts to save her from destruction.

The SS United States was a spectacular, mid-century, passenger ship. The engineering achievement, born out of the brilliance of Philadelphia maritime architect William Francis Gibbs, was a symbol of American's post WWII technological might. Enthralled with the science of maritime engineering, Gibbs was intent on designing the fastest and safest trans-Atlantic ocean liner ever. When commissioned to design the world's most advanced passenger ship, his commitment to the highest technological standards produced the most graceful, modern, powerful, and sleekest vessel in the world.

After shattering the trans-Atlantic speed record on her maiden voyage, the SS United States became "America's Flagship." She carried movie stars, entertainers, socialites and royalty across the Atlantic, making more than 800 crossings during her career. But no ship could compete with the allure of the jet age. In 1969, the SS United States quietly ceased her voyages. Since then, resting in various ports, the SS United States patiently waits as enthusiasts chart a new course for America's Flagship.


Oh, Sugar!: The Magical Transformation from Cane to Candy

August 16 - February 17, 2014

Oh, Sugar!: The Magical Transformation from Cane to Candy focused on Philadelphia's candy manufacturing history, tracing the magical transformation sugar took from cane to candy. Oh, Sugar! was curated by Eric and Ryan Berley, the brothers behind Old City's beloved Franklin Fountain and Shane Confectionary.

With more than 100 artifacts from the Berley's collection of confectionery machinery, molds, and ephermera, visitors got a glimspe into raw realities and sugar-coated past of Philadelphia's connection to the sugar industry. The exhibition looked at the evolution of the sugar industry, from the beginning of our love of sugar in colonial America through today. Visitors traced the trade routes that brought cane to the colonies and discover the early sugar refining techniques that were anything but sweet. Children played candy maker in cap and apron within the context of an old-time candy kitchen. The exihition was suitable for anyone with a sweet tooth, with information geared toward both young and young at heart. The exhibition concluded with a stop at vintage candy counter, complete with a working gumball machine so visitors could purchase a treat. Candy from Shane Confectionery was also be avaiable for purchase in the Museum's gift shop.


Digging the City: Archaeological Discoveries from the Philadelphia Waterfront

September 21, 2012 - February 3, 2013

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Independence Seaport Museum partnered with URS to present Digging the City: Archaeological Discoveries from the Philadelphia Waterfront to showcase objects uncovered during the construction of I-95.

Native American settlements and historic alleys, streets and wharves are still buried below the open spaces adjacent to I-95. The archaeological discoveries highlighted in the exhibition bring to life the experience of our waterfront’s historic inhabitants. The exhibition presents a snapshot of the area and how it evolved over time, from its earliest residents through the city’s industrial era.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is undertaking a long-term project to improve and rebuild I-95 in Philadelphia. The three mile section from I-676 to Allegheny Avenue includes improving the Girard Avenue interchange, highway widening, new utilities, landscaping and access to Philadelphia’s waterfront.

URS archaeologists, following the National Historic Preservation Act, are preserving the historic waterfront through scientific excavation and research. This research will recreate historical life at distinct points in time from 2,500 B.C. to A.D. 1900.


Art in the Open: The Exhibition

June 15 - September 9, 2012

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Art in the Open: The Exhibition presented works from artists that participated in the 2012 Art in the Open event. This exhibit aimed to draw attention to the city's outdoor spaces and historic waterways through the action of artists expressing their creativity within these environments. This citywide event took place along the Schuylkill River and transformed the Schuylkill River banks into art studios that offered inspiration of the urban landscape for the artists.



Past to Present - Tattoo Paintings

February 9 - May 20, 2012

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Past to Present – Tattoo Paintings framed the contemporary tattoo flash art movement in its traditional context. The exhibit featured over 150 tattoo paintings (known as "flash" in the trade) by renowned artists from around the world. A large number of these contemporary artist find their inspiration from the styles of their tattooist forbears. Numerous early designs depict nautical subjects, reflecting how merchant and naval seamen continued the American tattoo tradition. The exhibit was curated by Troy Timpel, a Philadelphia-based tattoo artist, creator of clothing line Villain Arts and organizer of the successful Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention.

Another highlight of the exhibit was a life size "tattoo artist" from the Museum's 2009 exhibit Skin & Bones: Tattoos in Life of the American Sailor. The electronic artist "talks" to customers as he "inks" one of four tattoos on their arms. The "tattooing" is done through a video projection system. The "tattoo artist" is still in the Museum on the second floor.