Now Showing: "Pop" Lubin’s Silent Film Empire
September 22, 2013 - February 2014
A passion for scientific experimentation and innovative technology – along with a strong ambition to achieve the American dream – led a spirited young German Jewish immigrant to become a central figure at the very dawn of the film industry.
Landing in the United States during its centennial year, Siegmund Lubin (ca.1841-1923) peddled eyeglasses across America before settling in Philadelphia in 1885. He began making magic lantern slides as a side venture in his optical shop but, after viewing early motion pictures at a trade fair, he was hooked on the new medium and began to experiment with films shot in his backyard. He was soon marketing his own camera equipment, opening theaters, and distributing films, eventually establishing a network of studios that stretched across the country. The crown jewel of this empire was Betzwood, a dignified estate outside of Philadelphia that Lubin planned to turn into a model industrial village – and the greatest movie studio of the day. Beloved by employees who called him “Pop” Lubin, he shared his success by providing generous salaries, medical benefits, and free hot lunches to all of his workers.
A combination of calamities forced the self-appointed “King of the Movies” to declare bankruptcy and return to ophthalmology in 1916, but the generation that built Hollywood remembered and honored his leadership in the early days of the film industry.
“The King of the Movies” is a feature length documentary based on the life and career of America's first Jewish Movie Mogul, Siegmund Lubin. The program is currently in development by Henry Nevison Productions, with fiscal sponsorship provided by the National Center for Jewish Film.
Portrait of Seigmund Lubin and publicity stills from Lubin Manufacturing Company
Donated by Jean M. Fulton in honor of Dr. Deborah M.Pressman and Cecilia Lubashur
Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American
March - October 2014
Baseball was a kind of secular church that reached into every class and region of the nation and bound millions upon millions of us together….Baseball made me understand what patriotism was about, at its best.
— Philip Roth, “My Baseball Years,” New York Times, Opening Day, April 2, 1973
In March of 2014 the Museum will invite fans and families to engage in baseball’s enduring legacy through the pioneering exhibition, Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American. Chasing Dreams will be the first large-scale exhibition to weave together the history of American sport, leisure, and national identity with the story of Jewish immigration and integration into American life. Baseball’s legends and myths, heroes and flops, its struggles and its moments of triumph tell our national story. And for immigrants to America—be they Jews, Italians, Dominicans, or Japanese—baseball has long served as a path to learning and understanding American values.
Chasing Dreams will run through October 2014 in Philadelphia and then begin a national tour.
Do you have baseball memorabilia that you’d like to share with the Museum? Visit us at http://www.chasingdreamsbaseball.tumblr.com/ to share photos of your artifacts!
Past Special Exhibitions
To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington & Religious Freedom
George Washington’s historic letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island was the remarkable centerpiece of the Museum’s first special exhibition, To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington and Religious Freedom. Written in August 1790, and exhibited for the first time in a decade, it represents a courageous and historic statement by America’s first national leader, one which underscored the new nation’s commitment to religious liberty and equality for people of all faiths. His poetic and iconic address confirmed the new President’s commitment to a government that “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
Today, people of all faiths enjoy freedom of religion in the United States. But in early America, religious communities could not assume that this would be true. Between the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Bill of Rights, Americans engaged in an intense debate about the nature and limits of religious liberty. People of all faiths followed these discussions intently, seeking assurance that their own rights would be protected.
The exhibition included a stunning group of artifacts, including early printings of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and Thomas Jefferson’s Act for Establishing Religious Freedom.