Regarded as one of Philadelphia?s most magnificent structures, Memorial Hall is situated in the metropolis? spacious Fairmont Park.
More than its grandness, Memorial Hall plays a significant role in Philadelphia?s urban architectural heritage as it is the sole surviving structure built in lieu of Philadelphia?s Centennial Exposition to commemorate United States? 100th birthday in 1876.
Memorial Hall?s blueprint was created by Hermann J. Schwarzmann who served as the head engineer of the Fairmount Park project. Today, Memorial Halls is recognized as one of the prime examples of the Beaux-Arts architectural school of design in the whole America.
Memorial Hall was built from granite, brick, iron and glass to the tune of $1.5 million. The choice of materials made the building entirely fire resistant, a feature that was quite innovative during the time it was built.
Memorial Hall measures 365 feet X 210 feet or 111 meters by 64 meters and stands at 150 feet tall or 46 meters. The pinnacle of the hall?s beautiful dome is fashioned from glass and iron. This dome is Memorial Hall?s most remarkable feature and is visible from the thoroughfares along the park. Resting atop the grand dome is the sculpture of Columbia, one of United States? poetic representations. There are other statues found in Memorial Hall which represent commerce and industry.
While the Centennial Exposition was ongoing, Memorial Hall was teeming with art masterpieces and moved on to being Philadelphia?s pioneering art museum for several years which is presently called the Pennsylvania Museum of the School of Industrial Art. The museum in Memorial Hall shut down when it moved to a bigger place on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 1928.
When the museum transferred to its new home, Fairmont Park Commission took over the management and ownership of Memorial Hall. A much modest art gallery will be established here and was likewise a police headquarters for several years.
Beginning 2008, Memorial Hall has housed the child-focused Please Touch Museum. Please Touch Museum is United States? pioneering museum catering to families with kids below seven years old and below. Its thrust is to ?enrich the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play.? It is now one of the best children?s museums in the country with six interactive galleries found on 38,000 square feet of museum space. At Please Touch Museum, play has a purpose and contrary to many kids? belief, learning need not to be boring after all.