Friday, October 23, 2009

What is big and bright and spins all day...?

It's the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel!

Today I'm excited to tell you about one of my favorite parts of Please Touch Museum. And who better to tell us about the historic Dentzel Carousel and its wonderful story than the museum's Curator of Collections, Stacey Swigart? Read on to get the full scoop from Stacey…

"For many years, Please Touch Museum planned to grow into a big museum with lots of really amazing things to play with and have fun. We wanted to build a shiny new carousel with many different characters that children (and their Grown-Ups!) could ride. But then we found out that a historic carousel-- one that was built and operated in Philadelphia-- was available if someone was willing to bring it back to spin once more. That carousel was no other than the original, historic Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel!

As Curator of Collections, I was lucky to get the job of finding out all of the history of the carousel and to figure out how we were going to get it spinning again. I spent many hours researching Woodside Park in West Philadelphia, and learned that it was built in 1897 as a final stop for the Fairmount Park Transportation Company trolley line that traveled through Fairmount Park and dropped people off at Woodside. It was a wonderful amusement park with lots of rides like roller coasters and a Ferris Wheel.

When Woodside Park closed in 1955, all of the rides were dismantled and either sent to the trash, or sold for other amusement parks. The Dentzel Carousel bounced around for a couple of years: From Rockaway Park (New York), Lambertville Music Circus (New Jersey) and then the Smithsonian Institution bought it and put it in storage. Almost 35 years later, they gave all the parts and pieces to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission who turned around and loaned it to Please Touch Museum! In 2006, the restoration process began and finally, in 2008, after 40 years in storage, the carousel was back in operation and found a new home at Please Touch Museum!"

You can find historic images and more info about the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel here.

Be sure to take a spin on your next visit!

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