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The Susquehannock Case
The Susquehannock Case in the Archaeology Gallery at The State
Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA, is a complex case. It contains
approximately 100 artifacts, which are some of the best Native American
artifacts in the museum’s collection. Only one artifact, the
breastplate, could not be exhibited and was modeled because of its
|The Susquehannock Case in the Archaeology Gallery
at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA.
The exhibit tells the story of the Susquehannock, a lost people,
from the 16th Century to the 18th Century spanning five historical
periods. The Susquehannock migrated from northern Pennsylvania into
the Lower Susquehanna Valley and subsequently traded with the newly
arrived Europeans. Many of the objects on display show the various
stages of their culture. The Susquehannock culture came to an end
in 1763 when the Paxton Boys from Harrisburg became outraged by
stories of native atrocities against white settlers, destroyed and
killed the Native American residents in the settlement, Conestoga
|(Top) Interpretive panel
with etched stainless steel text accompanied by Braille text.
|(Bottom) Close up of
The case was designed to be universally accessible. An audio presentation
tells the story of “A Lost People” using focused speakers
hanging above the main label panel and hearphones, which enhance the
same audio presentation for visitors who are hearing impaired or for
visitors who cannot hear because of other groups in the gallery. A
version of the audio is printed above the hearphones for people who
are deaf. The main label is slanted so children or people who use
wheelchairs can look at the photographs to identify objects in the
case, some of which are described in the audio, read the text, and
feel the two models. Visitors who are blind can access the same story
not only through the audio presentation, but through surface mounted
panels that contain the locations of the Native American sites and
the accompanying Braille text. The panels are made of etched stainless
steel—the lower parts are blackened out while the high points
reflect light for sighted visitors visiting this area the gallery,
which is low lighted for ease of viewing the diorama and to minimize
reflections from adjacent walls and exhibits.
|Hearphones at side of case provide audio presentation
about “A Lost People.”
The exhibit, which is the first exhibit in the museum to contain
labels in Braille as well as other accessible features, was curated
by Stephen Warfel, senior curator of archaeology, and designed by
Robert Bullock, Chief of Exhibits, who also painted and built the
diorama. Our disability consultant was Londa Hauser from the Tri-County
Association of the Blind, and case fabrication was done by the museum’s
fabrication section while the Braille and graphic panels were produced
by USA Models, Loch Haven, PA. The complex wiring for the audio
and light show was developed and engineered by The Magic Lantern,
an audio-visual firm in Pittsburgh, PA.
|A museum visitor uses the hearphones.
For more information on the Susquehannock Case contact:
Robert Bullock, Chief
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
300 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0024