Charles Willson Peale
Charles Willson Peale (American, 1741–1827) believed in the power of knowledge. If people could understand the world around them, they could improve their community and its future. To this end, he opened Peale’s Museum in 1786 in the heart of Philadelphia to educate, entertain, and inspire the public. Museum visitors could see natural history specimens, Peale’s painted portraits, and new inventions.
Peale is best remembered today as an artist, but he was also a scientist, soldier, politician, and inventor. He fought in the Revolutionary War and wanted to help the new nation thrive. Peale felt that establishing an American art tradition was important to the country’s success and helped found its first art school. He taught many of his family members to paint, forming the nation’s first artistic dynasty.