Historic Second Bank of the United States Reopens to the Public

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Date: July 14, 2016
Contact: Adam Duncan, 215-597-0060

Philadelphia – On May 28, 2016 the Portrait Gallery in the Second Bank of the United States reopened to the public after being closed for fourteen months for cleaning and conservation. Cleaning and conservation work was necessary because of a small fire in a mechanical unit in the basement that occurred in January 2015.

Once a repository for our nation's federal finances, the Second Bank of the United States now houses the park's "People of Independence" exhibit, which includes over 150 portraits of 18th and 19th century political leaders, military officers, explorers and scientists, including many by noted artist Charles Willson Peale.

During conservation work to Peale's portrait of Martha Washington, park staff discovered a previously unknown note from Ruben's Peale (one of Charles' sons) dated 1865. The note reads, "This portrait of Mrs. Martha Washington was painted by my father C.W. Peale. I was present when it was painted. –Rubens Peale. Philadelphia March 1865." The note was carefully removed and preserved in the park's collections.

In addition, while the portrait gallery was closed for conservation, the park received a gift of two paintings, Nicholas Biddle by Rembrandt Peale and his wife, Jane Craig Biddle by artist Bass Otis. These two portraits are now exhibited in the gallery's Philadelphia faces room.

"We are thrilled to be able to re-open the Portrait Gallery this year –a very important year for us," said Independence National Historical Park Superintendent Cynthia MacLeod." 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The Centennial is an opportunity for the National Park Service to inspire everyone to be involved in the next 100 years of protecting and sharing the nation's most treasured places.Places like the Second Bank."

The public is encouraged to share their experience with the National Park Service online using the hashtag #findyourpark.

The Second Bank of the United States "People of Independence" exhibit is free and open seven days a week from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. The portrait collection can also be visited online by visiting bit.ly/SecondBank.


A unit of the National Park Service, Independence National Historical Park was created by an Act of Congress on June 28, 1948.Accredited by the American Association of Museums, Independence NHP covers almost 54 acres in Philadelphia's Old City, and includes Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall, Franklin Court, and other historic buildings associated with the founding of the United States. The park is open from 9:00 am daily with the exception of Christmas day.A visit to Independence National Historical Park should start at the Independence Visitor Center, located at 6th and Market Streets.Here, visitors can pick up a park brochure, park map, and the free, timed tickets required for Independence Hall.For more information visit the park's website, https://www.nps.gov/inde, follow us at twitter.com/independencenhpor www.facebook.com/independencenhp.

Last updated: September 28, 2016

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