Campus Life

The Pasto Agricultural Museum chronicles 6,000 years of history

Hidden Gems at Penn State: Pasto museum reflects Penn State's agricultural history

Jerome "Jerry" K. Pasto, agricultural economics professor and associate dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, was the first curator and namesake of the Pasto Agricultural Museum. In this 1995 photo, Pasto demonstrates how to hold a horse-drawn potato cultivator, just one of the more than 1,000 items in the museum's collection. Credit: Pasto Agricultural MuseumAll Rights Reserved.

There’s a rich history of agriculture at Penn State — literally.

The Pasto Agricultural Museum chronicles more than 6,000 years of agricultural history and development, giving visitors a glimpse into early rural and agricultural life with a focus on Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States.

The Pasto Agricultural Museum, located in Pennsylvania Furnace near the University Park campus, boasts a collection of unique items that captures thousands of years of agricultural history and development. Credit: Pat Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

First opened in 1979 during the College of Agricultural Sciences’ annual Ag Progress Days expo, the Pasto Agricultural Museum’s original collection consisted of over 150 items that came largely from the personal collection of Jerome K. Pasto, then-associate dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. Those first pieces in the collection included a foot-powered milking machine from 1895, a horse-powered treadmill and a 1917 reaper, among other antiquities.

The Pasto Agricultural Museum includes many items from across 6,000 years of agricultural history, including tools from early human societies and more recent antique farming equipment that paved the way for contemporary agricultural practices.  Credit: Pat Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

Since then, the museum’s collection has rapidly expanded to more 1,300 pieces chronicling the history of agricultural development in human civilization and American culture. The rarities on display include early harvesting and threshing devices, once-common items in the American home and kitchen, and antique farm equipment, offering visitors a chance to reflect on how these tools paved the way for our modern economy and food production systems.

Catch a glimpse into the American kitchen of an earlier age through the Pasto Agricultural Museum's collection of commercial items once common in an average household. Credit: Pat Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

The museum, located on the Ag Progress Days site on state Route 45 about nine miles southwest of the University Park campus, is dedicated to a mission of bringing high-quality, interactive educational experiences and exhibits to the public. Each year, the museum offers a slate of interactive programming, weekly events for children and families, and the ever-popular blacksmithing demonstrations during Ag Progress Days.

The blacksmithing demonstration at the Pasto Agricultural Museum is often one of the most popular events at the annual Ag Progress Days event, hosted by the College of Agricultural Sciences. Credit: Pat Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

Visit to learn more and stay up to date with the latest exhibits at the Pasto Agricultural Museum.

Last Updated July 29, 2019