John Tolley, July 2, 2017
The 14 universities of the Big Ten Conference are home to some of the finest museums, special collections and libraries in the nation. From musical oddities to ancient artifacts, the B1G Museums series is your carefully curated guide to the archives and exhibits, great and small, which help make these universities outstanding. Join us as we journey across 14 campuses and inside the institutions that make us so proud to LiveB1G
Pasto Agricultural Museum
Agriculture has long been central to life in what is now Pennsylvania. The Lenape and Monongahela peoples native to the region's Delaware and Upper Ohio Valleys grew corn, beans and squash – crops known as the Three Sisters. European colonists brought plows and horses with them to turn over large fields.
Penn State's Pasto Agricultural Museum traces the roots of agriculture in the region and its vital role in shaping the history of the state. The museum features around 1,300 farm and household items, some of which date back 6,000 years.
Since its inception in 1974, the Pasto Museum's mission has been to tell the vast story of Pennsylvania farming through exhibits that touch on all aspects of agriculture, from beekeeping to butchering to animal husbandry. The museum, which started as a small display from professor Jerome K. Pasto's personal collection of antique farm items in the University's Agricultural Administration Building, is now housed in a building specially designed to showcase its growing number of artifacts.
The museum's collection is the result of the tireless work of curators as well as generous support and donations from local farms, families and collectors. The museum even maintains a wish list on its website to help further their acquisitions.
Much of what visitors to the Pasto Museum will see offers a window into farm life prior to electrification and mechanization. Horse-drawn plows, butter churns and grindstones harken to a time when work was hard and every member of the family had a job to do.
For those who want to get their hands at least a little dirty, interactive exhibits offer a chance to step into the role of a rural farmhand, circa 1895. The newest display, a fiberglass dairy cow, offers a chance to get familiar with the milking process.
The Pasto Museum also plays home to Penn State's Ag Progress Days, an annual event that runs for three days every August. The largest agricultural exposition in the state, Ag Progress Days draws people from all over Pennsylvania and the nearby region to see exhibits on the latest farm tech, university research, educational programs, management practices and sustainability.
The Pasto Agricultural Museum is open from mid-March through December. More information can be found here.