There are disruptions on the landscape of Philadelphia's history and science museums.
The Penn Museum's Egyptian galleries are closed for another four to six years of heavy-duty renovation. Its Mexico and Central America gallery and the Africa gallery have just closed for a year — again for extensive renovations.
The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent, the city's official history museum, has closed, at least temporarily, while officials ponder its future.
At the Independence Seaport Museum and the Science History Institute, significant additions and enhancements are coming to permanent exhibitions. Both will remain open during the period of change.
Despite such inconveniences and uncertainties — museums, which can seem so static are, in fact, constantly changing — there are some extraordinary exhibitions on tap for the fall.
And two beloved dioramas at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University — gorillas and takin (a kind of antelope or goat from western China) — will reopen after an extensive rejuvenation that has lasted most of the year.
The African American Museum in Philadelphia will present artist-photographer John Dowell's visionary exploration of cotton. The National Museum of American Jewish History will host the first major exhibit of the work of witty cartoonist Rube Goldberg in nearly 50 years.
The American Swedish Historical Museum will explore the impact of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman on the world of fashion. And the Franklin Institute brings in a boatload of Vikings. Skol!
Ingmar Bergman and His Legacy in Fashion and Art (Through Jan. 21, American Swedish Historical Museum). This exhibition focuses on Bergman's use of costumes in some of his most recognizable films. It features photographs, a timeline of Bergman's career (which includes 60 films and 172 theater productions), and an installation of 32 rarely seen clips. (215-389-1776, americanswedish.org)
Kindergarten: The Foundation to Life (Through Sept. 28, Historical Society of Pennsylvania). HSP continues to mine its vast archives for small "document displays" open to the public. This one features materials highlighting the kindergarten experience from the 1800s to the early 1900s. The next one (Oct. 2-Nov. 9) will explore the year 1968. Then, for the holidays (Nov. 13-Dec. 21), comes an exhibit featuring cookbooks, menus, ads, and other items related to food. (215-732-6200, hsp.org)
Cotton: The Soft, Dangerous Beauty of the Past (Sept. 14-Jan. 21, African American Museum in Philadelphia). Philadelphia artist John Dowell explores the terrible beauty of the cotton plant and its prolonged relationship to American slavery in an exhibition of photographs, installations, and altarpieces. (215-574-0380, aampmuseum.org)
From the Heart, Made by Hand: Treasures from the Women of Sweden (Sept. 16-March 10, American Swedish Historical Museum). This exhibition includes selections of the 75 handmade textiles presented to the American Swedish Historical Museum in 1938 from every province of mainland Sweden. In a related show running concurrently, fiber sculptor Ted Hallman examines the relationship between traditional and modern craft. (215-389-1776, americanswedish.org)
Gorilla and Takin Dioramas (Sept. 20, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University). The academy reopens its famous displays of these animals in their natural habitats. The displays have been closed since February for their first renovations since installation more than 80 years ago. (215-299-1000, ansp.org)
An Arborist's Angle: Laurel Hill's Specimen Trees (Sept. 23, Laurel Hill Cemetery). Laurel Hill was created nearly 200 years ago not only as a burial place but as an arboreal retreat. Aaron Greenberg, Laurel Hill's contemporary tree guy, leads a walking tour of the grounds as a historic horticultural center. (215-228-8200, thelaurelhillcemetery.org)
Doris Kearns Goodwin: Leadership in Turbulent Times (Sept. 24, National Constitution Center). Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin discusses her new book, comparing the styles of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. Jeffrey Rosen, head of the NCC, moderates. (215-409-6600, constitutioncenter.org)
What the Nose Knows: Using Dogs for Odor Detection Research (Sept. 27, Wagner Free Institute of Science). Jennifer Essler from the Penn Vet Working Dog Center presents canine olfactory wonders, part of the Weeknights at the Wagner series of talks and presentations. (215-763-6529, wagnerfreeinstitute.org)
Spit Spreads Death (Sept. 29, the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia). A day of activities and previews in anticipation of the museum's 1918 flu pandemic exhibition due in late 2019. The flu killed about 13,000 Philadelphians in six weeks and sickened half a million. The Mütter will offer free flu shots while they last — probably a first for area museums. (215-574-0380, muttermuseum.org)
1968: Civil Unrest and Civil Rights (Oct. 3, 10, and 24, Historical Society of Pennsylvania). A three-part speaker series explores dislocation and change in the 1960s. Ralph Young, Robert Kodosky, Michael Long, Amy Rutenberg, and Tracy E. K'Meyer are among the speakers. (215-732-6200, hsp.org)
William Birch and the Complexities of American Visual Culture (Oct. 5, Library Company of Philadelphia). This daylong symposium explores the visual, cultural, and social themes in the work of Philadelphia artist Birch (1755-1834), subject of the Library Company's current exhibition, William Birch, Ingenious Artist: His Life, His Philadelphia Views, and His Legacy. (215-546-3181, librarycompany.org)
Explore Philly's Buried Past, 2018! (Oct. 6, the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum). The National Constitution Center hosts this annual event, sponsored by PAF and Independence National Historical Park, featuring professional archaeologists who present recent highlights of area excavations. (phillyarchaeology.net)
Science on Tap: Ancient Egypt and Nubia with Conservator Molly Gleason (Oct. 8, Penn Museum). The Egyptian galleries may be closed for renovation, but that means there's time to conserve many artifacts in the Egyptian collection. Project conservator Molly Gleeson discusses the ongoing work and research in an informal presentation at National Mechanics bar and restaurant on South Third Street. Attendees must be 21 or older. (215-898-4000, penn.museum)
From Oyntments & Salves to Kotex & Pills (Oct. 9, the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia). This pop-up exhibit, mounted as part of Archives Month Philly, looks at how women's health care has changed, from 17th-century recipe books to mid-20th-century manuals. (215-560-8564, muttermuseum.org)
Philadelphia: The Changing City (Oct. 10-April 13, Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central, Rare Book Department). Images of the evolving city drawn from 300 years of prints, photographs, documents, and maps reveal the planned and unplanned changes. (215-686-5322, freelibrary.org)
The Art of Rube Goldberg (Oct.12-Jan. 21, National Museum of American Jewish History). This exhibition explores Goldberg's cartoons and illustrations, including his elaborate and whimsical invention drawings. The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist died in 1970, the year of the last major exhibition of his work. (215-923-3811, nmajh.org)
Vikings: Beyond the Legend, (Oct. 13-March 3, the Franklin Institute). Ship reconstructions displayed amid whiz-bang multimedia environments, more than 600 artifacts from Denmark, augmented reality, a "ghost ship" — all brought together to convey the reality of the Viking Age a millennium ago. (215-448-1200, fi.edu)
Festival for the People (Oct. 13-28, Philadelphia Contemporary and the Delaware River Waterfront Corp.). Stretching over the Race Street and Cherry Street piers, the festival will feature sculptures, installations, videos, and banners from a wide range of artists, including Philly Typewriter, Erlin Geffrard, filmmakers Andrea Bowers, Yoshua Okón, Hiwa K, Jennifer Levonian, and Maider López, plus elaborate sculptural installations brought to Philadelphia in collaboration with Creos of Montreal. (philadelphiacontemporary.org)
The First Gay American Novel: A Forgotten Book by Sarah Orne Jewett (Oct. 16, Library Company of Philadelphia). Professor Don James Brown of the University of Tulsa makes the case that A Marsh Island (1885), a little-known novel by Maine writer Sarah Orne Jewett, should be considered the nation's first gay novel. This program will be held in collaboration with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. (215-546-3181, librarycompany.org)
Door 19: Skeletons in Our Closet (Oct. 18, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University). Quirky science meets themed soiree for adults. Skulls courtesy of the Mütter Museum. (215-299-1000, ansp.org)
Moby-Dick Marathon Reading (Oct. 19-20, Rosenbach Museum and Library and the Independence Seaport Museum). A marathon reading of the entire text of Herman Melville's whale of a fish story. Food (including something called Queequeg's Chowder) and nonreading activities will be on hand. (215-732-1600, rosenbach.org)
Philadelphia Shell Show (Oct. 27-28, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University). Thousands of shells will be on display and for sale at the annual show, the largest of its kind in the Northeast. (215-299-1000, ansp.org)
Hamilton Was Here: Rising Up in Revolutionary Philadelphia (Oct. 27-March 17, Museum of the American Revolution). The museum is creating an "interactive playscape," composed of games and environments that connects the city of Philadelphia and Alexander Hamilton's contributions to the nation's founding. (215-253-6731, amrevmuseum.org)
It's Alive! The Scientific Roots of Monsters (Oct. 30, Science History Institute). The institute presents a program exploring the macabre public experiments that inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula. (215-925-2222, sciencehistory.org)
At These Crossroads: The Lives and Legacies of Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. DuBois (Nov. 12-April 30, Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central). In honor of Douglass' bicentennial and DuBois' sesquicentennial, this exhibit explores how these two intellectuals and activists sought to resolve the great conflict of being black and American. (215-686-5322, freelibrary.org)
The Legacy of the Thirteenth Amendment (A speaker series, Nov. 15, Dec. 13, Jan. 9, Jan. 24, Rosenbach Museum and Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia) The Rosenbach's 1865 commemorative copy of the 13th Amendment will be exhibited as speakers explore the historical circumstances of the amendment's passage and its complicated legacy from Jim Crow to mass incarceration. Speakers include Douglas Blackmon, Hosea H. Harvey, and Eric Motley at the Rosenbach, and Michele Norris at the Parkway Central Library. (215-732-1600, rosenbach.org)