Dr. Levi W. Mengel, founder and first director of the Reading Public Museum, wholeheartedly believed in the value of a “sensory education.” As a teacher at Boys' High School in the Reading School District, Dr. Mengel used his personal collection of antiquities in his teaching to help bring history alive for his students in the early 1900s. He recognized that young minds hunger for active participation and personal experience, and he continued collecting scientific and anthropological materials to use as teaching aids.
Thanks to donations from Dr. Mengel and nearly 2,000 pieces acquired at the St. Louis World’s Fair, Reading students could see, touch, and learn about objects from around the globe. In 1907, the third floor of the Reading School District administration building was converted into a museum to provide students with exciting hands-on learning experiences.
Dr. Levi W. Mengel
Reading Public Museum's founder and first director
With the addition of several paintings to the fledgling museum’s collection, Dr. Mengel’s creation was renamed the Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery in 1913 and opened to the public. As The Museum’s collection continued to expand, it became clear that it would eventually outgrow its home. The Museum’s present location, which welcomed its first visitors in 1929, was a generous donation to the Reading School District from local industrialists Ferdinand Thun and Irvin F. Impink.
In the decades that followed, The Museum developed a world-class collection of more than 300,000 objects, including art, antiquities, and scientific and cultural artifacts from around the globe. Thanks to RPM’s sponsors and generous community support, the collection continues to grow and diversify.
Have you ever wanted to be face-to-face with an ancient Egyptian mummy or among dinosaur bones from millions of years ago? Maybe you’re more interested in original works by artists including Degas, Rodin, and Warhol. Perhaps you’d like to investigate mysterious Mayan treasures, American Indian artifacts, or one of the traveling exhibits The Museum hosts each year? There’s something for everyone to enjoy at RPM!
Dr. Mengel’s dedication to sensory education was ahead of its time, and the work he began continues today. RPM’s cutting-edge interactive exhibits offer visitors inspiring, hands-on learning opportunities that are unique to The Museum, and there’s always something new to see and do.
The mission of the Reading Public Museum, a dynamic center of lifelong learning and discovery, is to educate, enlighten and engage current and future generations through the collection, preservation and interpretation of objects of art, science and civilization.
The Museum cannot offer valuations, appraisals, or authentications of artwork. If you have an object you would like to have valued or authenticated, The Museum recommends the following resources:
American Society of Appraisers (800) 272-8258
Appraisers Association of America (212) 889-5404
Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America
For questions about object conservation, the American Institute for Conservation has available a national referral system. Please call (202) 452-9545.
2015 Form 990 Tax Form
Exhibits, events, & extras
Charles Harenza, Esq.
Jill Martin, CPA
Seth E. Rosenzweig, M.D.
John Graydon Smith
Kevin S. Barnhardt
Dr. Brian Buerke
Anne M. Fink PhD, RN, CNE
Joanne M. Judge, Esq.
C. Jack Lusch
Julio (Leo) C. Martinez
Regina (Ginger) Miller
Fred S. Opalinski
Dr. Thomas B. Souders
John Graydon Smith
Director and CEO
Ashley Hamilton Houston
Collections Manager & Registrar
Curator of Art & Civilization
Manager of Education
STEM & Family Education
Education & Events
Customer Service &
General inquiries of
Stephanie Hafer Shaak
Vice President of Event &
Event Rental Coordinator
Customer Service &
Director of Community Development
Manager of Museum Events
Controller & HR Manager
Customer Service Coordinator
Customer Service &
Gift Shop Coordinator
Museum Shop Cashier
Manager of Marketing &
Director of Building & Grounds
Volunteer openings are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., and Sundays between 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. This position requires friendly, outgoing individuals to assist patrons with merchandise sales and run a computerized cash register. Prior retail experience would be helpful. Volunteers should be at least 18 years old or a senior in high school.
The purpose of this position is to facilitate the growing number of educational programs at The Museum. The Museum Educator will report to the Managers of Humanities and STEM Education and will be primarily responsible for implementation of educational programming. This includes but is not limited to student tours, scout workshops and sleepovers, summer camp programs, adult program, public programs, and birthday parties.
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
Work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
To apply for this position please send your cover letter, resume, and three references (pdf files preferred) to: Jacquelynn Danek, Manager of STEM Education, email@example.com AND Wendy Koller, Manager of Humanities Education, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gallery Docents are enthusiastic volunteers who are specially trained to bring our collection to life for learners of all ages. Persons interested in becoming a Museum Docent must attend 4 consecutive Senior Series events which take place the 4th Friday of each month at 1:30p.m., be willing to make a 2 year commitment to The Museum, and must be a Museum Member. Once invited into The Docent Program Docents are required to attend monthly training sessions, and volunteer for a minimum of 6 hours a month. If you are interested in joining The Docent Program or have any questions please contact Wendy Koller, at email@example.com or (610)-371-5850 x223
The Reading Public Museum has an available part-time position for an individual to perform minor maintenance and custodial tasks throughout The Museum campus. Requires a valid PA driver's license, experience with electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and carpentry. Work hours are variable and require a flexible schedule, some weekends required.
Email resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications also available at the admissions desk at The Museum.
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