Ryerss Museum and Library - Atlas Obscura

Ryerss Museum and Library

The Ryerss mansion in Burholme Park now houses a community library and a museum filled with a trove of oddities from around the world. 


Few museums in Philadelphia are filled with a collection of art and artifacts quite as strange, random, and fantastic as the Ryerss Museum and Library. And what’s really surprising is that the whole place is free.

There are literally hundreds of items to see in the large rooms of the museum section in this old Victorian home, so this is one of those places that benefit from repeat visits. A few notable pieces include the museum’s mascot, Snapper (a stuffed alligator calling card holder), a giant oil painting of two of the Ryerss family’s pet dogs, and the carved ivory spheres that hold other independently revolving, concentric ivory spheres inside. It’s also worth searching for the large Chinese puppet theater, the ostrich egg box, and taking the time to appreciate the countless small and intricately carved figurines. 

The history of the place is also interesting—in the final year of his life, the unmarried 65-year-old heir to the house married his housekeeper, Mary Ann Reed, with the understanding that she would continue to expand the collection and eventually donate it to the public. When he passed away a few months later, she used her inheritance to continue collecting knick-knacks, art, and oddities from abroad for the rest of her life. 

Know Before You Go

The museum and library are open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 am-4 pm. There is free parking on-site.

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October 19, 2023

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