Experiments in Liberty

Pennsylvania's Revolutionary Struggle

Benjamin Rush Gallery

As Americans throughout the British North American colonies and the new United States experimented with the concepts of liberty and republican virtue between 1760 and 1800, the people of Pennsylvania tested the promising ideals of the American Revolution through the contentious nature of their politics. This exhibition features documents that illustrate the successes and setbacks Pennsylvania faced during the precarious first decades of the new nation. 


EXPERIMENTS IN LIBERTY is curated by Ariel Caruso '14 and Matthew White '14, working in conjunction with Professor Christopher Bilodeau and James Gerencser, the Director of Archives and Special Collections. 

Read more about Benjamin Rush in "A Rush of Contradictions" by Michelle Simmons

The Benjamin Rush Gallery, located in the Archives and Special Collections of the Waidner-Spahr Library, features Thomas Sully's brilliant portrait of the co-founder of Dickinson College. Painted for Benjamin Rush during the final years of his life, the canvas represents the revolutionary figure seated before a study, amid books, documents, and a distant view of the Pennsylvania Hospital, where he served on the medical staff from 1783 until the time of his death in 1813. The portrait is one of Sully's finest works and reveals the artist's fluid brushwork and command of the leading trends in European portraiture. The work boasts an incomparable provenance, having passed from the hands of the artist to Benjamin Rush and has since remained in the Rush family until its acquisition in 2009 by the Trout Gallery. The portrait is the centerpiece of an exhibition gallery that features a revolving selection of artifacts associated with Benjamin Rush and the founding of Dickinson College.

Gallery Hours
Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.