Shedding Light on the Past: Lighting Devices of the 18th and 19th Centuries

February 10 – April 28, 2013

This exhibit will explore lighting devices that existed before electricity, from the late 18th through mid-19th century. Objects on display will include early candle holders, rushlights, whale oil and camphene lamps. These objects are representative of lighting devices of that time, and illustrative of adaptations made to take advantage of newer innovations in fuel types and improved safety. Though a brief period in time, it is one of great technological advancement in the history of lighting.

This temporary exhibit at the Centre Furnace Mansion is a collaboration of the Centre County Historical Society, Richard Pencek, Diane and James Farr, Mary Sorensen and Penn State students Olivia Perdew and Shannon Devlin. Exhibit objects featured are from CCHS collections and those generously lent by local collectors, Antiques at John R. Snedden Ltd., the Pasto Agricultural Museum of the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences and the Ladies of Battery B, 3rd Pennsylvania Vol., Light Artillery.

Funding for this exhibit has been provided by Victorian Lighting Works of Centre Hall and by a grant from the Karen Rugh–Richard Pencek Program Endowment for American Art and Culture at Penn State. Printing has been sponsored in part by Jaru Associates, Inc.


Photography provided by Penn State faculty member Fred Weber, and students Jennifer Nagel and Jessica Yurinko in the College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State.

Graphic design is by David Lembeck.