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Ryerss Library and Museum

A family’s fanciful collection of souvenirs and heirlooms

Outside the Ryerss Library and Museum

Outside the Ryerss Library and Museum Credit: Ryerss Library and Museum


The Experience

World travelers and inveterate collectors, the Ryerss filled their grand country villa with souvenirs that reflected their eclectic, sometimes whimsical taste. Many of their journeys took them to Asia, where they acquired entire contents of small Buddhist temples, Japanese kimonos, ivory sculptures of all sizes, models of ships, and armor.

Mary Ann Ryerss, the last of the family to live in the house, was a collector of souvenir items from the early 20th century. Among her treasures are a Leaning Tower of Pisa made of resin, an ivory Taj Mahal and a model ship formed entirely from cloves. There is also an outstanding display of Native American artifacts that were found at nearby Pennypack Creek.


Tioga Railroad president Joseph Waln Ryerss built his Italianate villa in 1859 on 85 acres in Burholme Park. His son, Robert, inherited the property and started filling it with souvenirs from his many travels. Late in life, he married his housekeeper, Mary Ann Reed, who continued to travel and collect after his death. In 1910, the mansion was remodeled as a library and museum.

Other Information

Open Fri – Sun

Insider Tip

The Ryerss family loved animals. Portraits of their pets hang in the mansion; some pets are buried on the lawn in graves marked by headstones.

Great Kids’ Stuff

The free library has a fine children’s collection of books that can be read in a Victorian sitting room during opening hours.


7370 Central Ave
Burholme Park
Philadelphia, PA 19111

(215) 685-0544

In the neighborhood

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