Turnpike exhibit in State Museum of Pennsylvania earns national award

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HARRISBURG — A permanent exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania featuring the history of the Pennsylvania Turnpike has earned national recognition after receiving a 2017 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History, according to a press release.

The honor specifically recognizes the State Museum’s exhibit, The Pennsylvania Turnpike: America’s First Superhighway.


“We are so pleased to receive this special recognition for the turnpike exhibit,” said Beth Hager, director of The State Museum of Pennsylvania, in the release. “The AASLH award underscores the positive new standard we are setting to revive and enhance presentations and programs throughout The State Museum.”

Based in Nashville, Tenn., AASLH is a not-for-profit professional organization working to preserve and promote history.

The AASLH Leadership in History Awards is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. The Leadership in History Awards Program was initiated in 1945 to build standards of excellence in the collection, preservation and interpretation of state and local history throughout America.

AASLH will present the award to The State Museum at a special banquet on September 8 in Austin, Texas. 

Dr. Curt Miner, a senior curator at The State Museum who headed the exhibit, will accept the award.

“Our partnership with The State Museum began as way to commemorate our 75th anniversary,” said Mark Compton, CEO of the PA Turnpike Commission. “It is an honor to be showcased in this exhibit and we are gratified to see the State Museum recognized for their meticulous work. Dr. Miner and his curatorial team crafted an exhibit that tells the Turnpike story in a compelling and meaningful way.”

Opened on October 2, 2015 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, The Pennsylvania Turnpike: America’s First Superhighway exhibit highlights the ongoing quest to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure. By tunneling through the mountains rather than routing over or around them, and maintaining uniform design and construction standards across its entire length, the original 160-mile section of roadway cut travel time between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh by nearly half.

The exhibit is the first in a series of modular upgrades to the Museum’s popular second-floor Transportation and Industry gallery.