Beauty, relaxation, education and celebration.
The Reading Public Museum was founded in 1904 to provide a cultural center for fine arts and sciences. The Museum and Arboretum have and continue to be an educational and recreational focal point for the public and local schools. The facility, grounds and collections provide a dynamic three-dimensional laboratory and a source of relaxation.
In 1927, prominent Cambridge, Massachusetts-based town planner John Nolen issued a plan for the Wyomissing Development Company (a real estate partnership of Ferdinand Thun and Irvin Impink) that included a generalized plan for the Museum’s Arboretum, as well as a detailed plan for the residential, so-called Wyomissing Park. Nolen did some landscape advising for the Museum, and Elmer A. Muhs was identified in 1924 as the Arboretum’s landscape architect. A great number of specimens were generously donated by Bertrand Farr from his superb botanical collection of trees, shrubs and flowering plants, gathered from all over the world. The plantings were carefully located throughout the park and eventually the Arboretum was named an accredited station for the United States Bureau of Plant Industry.
Many of the 65 distinctive specimens on the map of the park today are from the original planting. The trees which are labeled show both scientific and common names. Large exotic trees are interspersed with indigenous trees and shrubs, serving as an exterior laboratory for anyone wishing to observe the natural world.
The Wyomissing Creek, which flows through the Arboretum and Park, is one of Berks County’s most visited places. Seasonal changes in the 25 landscaped acres invite leisurely walks along the many pathways or silent contemplation on foot bridges that crisscross the creek.
During springtime in the Arboretum, flowers of all sizes and colors burst forth as sunlight and rains increase air and soil temperatures. Bulbs, herbaceous and ground plants catch the year’s early sunlight to produce their flowers and seeds. Spring breezes assist in fertilization of the early flowering trees and shrubs whose fruit matures through autumn.
As Spring becomes Summer, the growth flush of leaves produces deeper shaded areas, important to the life cycles of the understory and ground plants. Flowers and warming temperatures capture the attention of insects and other invertebrates. Bird life, including nesting is at its highest point. Mammals, reptiles and amphibians become more active and are a common sight throughout the park.
Summer’s warmer temperatures and lesser precipitation bring new changes. The Wyomissing Creek attracts life at or around its banks – plants, trees, insects, animals and humans. Later flowering varieties of plants and trees provide a contrast of color to the green. Insects and birds fertilize flowers as the warm breezes of Summer become cooler and daylight shortens.
Autumn provides a spectacular show of colors through brilliantly colored leaves and fruits. Conifers and marsh plants increase the landscape’s form and texture. Migration changes the many species of birds and waterfowl that are present in the park during the entire year.
Chilly winds and frosty mornings bring cooler shades of color. Sudden snowfalls and magical ice formations in The Wyomissing Creek and on the plants and trees around it, make winter a time of enchantment. Underground, the roots of the trees are preparing for the Spring, while bulbs await a rebirth.
The Museum has gone through many changes since its founding, but one of its main purposes continues to be the teaching and enlightenment of the community and visitors to this area. The Museum accepts and uses volunteers to accomplish many of its daily operations and projects. Please inquire if you wish to volunteer your time to improve this fine place for future visitors and residents (click on "Arboretum Volunteer" button in the left-hand column).
Remember that one of the many highlights of the Arboretum is nature in a learning environment. Any time is a good time to take pictures in this park, but please do not pick the flowers or disturb the wildlife.
Enjoy your experience in this natural landscape and always be respectful of nature and it processes!
For information about the Arboretum Assistants program, contact Ken Heiser at 610-371-5850 x239, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please Don't Feed the Ducks!
Although it's been a longtime tradition to feed the ducks at the Museum, it's not a smart thing to do. In fact, you'll see signs like the one pictured here asking you to please not to do so. We ask your help with enforcing this environmentally sound policy, and help keep our feathered friends happy and maintain their "wildness."
Feeding can cause:
• the ducks to become sick and die
• fighting over food
• dependency on people for food
• more duck droppings (watch your step!)