Mar. 20

Art@Lunch | Time, Space, and Colonialism: Independence Hall's Clock in Historical Context

March 20, 2024
12 PM – 1 PM
Bunting Center
1401 W Mount Royal Ave

For March's Art@Lunch, Kerr Houston, of the History of Art, Design & Visual Culture department, will be speaking. Begun in 1732 and in use by late 1735, the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) has been called "the grandest public building in all of the British New World colonies." Its associations with the American Revolution are well known--but the structure is also notable for the prominent clock on its western end. Likely installed in the 1750s and featuring a monumental case and marble hood, the timepiece was apparently unique, in form and scale, in the history of clock design. In this talk, Kerr Houston will consider several previously undiscussed early accounts of the clock, and argue that the timepiece embodied colonial ideologies in imposing a temporal discipline upon the alleged "wilderness" of Pennsylvania. Erected at what was then the edge of the city and towering over an area that had long traditionally served as an Indigenous camping ground, the clock played a prominent role in the pointed creation of a timescape that was closely connected to notions of discipline and that formed part of a more general effort to measure, subdue, and possess Penn's Woods.