The most up-to-date item in the exhibit is a 1920-vintage flush toilet with a wooden seat and holding tank.
While London plumber Thomas Crapper is widely credited with being the inventor of the flush toilet, back in the late 1800s, English inventor Sir John Harrington is the man truly responsible for its creation, according to Swick.
"Thomas Crapper improved upon the toilet invented by Harrington -- he did not invent it himself," Swick said.
Harrington, the godson of Queen Elizabeth I, invented a flushing lavatory in the 1590s, piping water from a rooftop cistern into a bowl equipped with a leather release valve at its base. A series of clamps, levers, weights and handles controlled the system, which Queen Elizabeth I reportedly tested, and approved of, during a visit to Harrington's home in 1592.
Swick will present two lectures in conjunction with the exhibit. "A History of Bathrooms: From Ancient Times to the 21st Century," will be presented at 1 p.m. on both April 20 and July 20, in the museum's conference room.
"We've had a very encouraging response to the exhibit so far," Swick said.
Also new at the Parkersburg museum is an exhibit on tobacco production and use in the Ohio Valley, which includes early cultivation and processing tools, a huge hogshead tobacco barrel made from a sycamore trunk and tobacco products and accessories used in the region, ranging from prehistoric stone pipes found on Blennerhassett Island to 20th century novelty lighters.
The Blennerhassett Museum, open year-round, offers exhibits covering life in the mid-Ohio Valley from prehistoric to modern times.
The entire lower level of the museum is devoted to prehistoric Native American tools, weapons, household items, toys, jewelry and ornaments collected by Professor Henry Stahl of Parkersburg during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Other exhibits cover such topics as items associated with the Blennerhassetts and their idyllic island home; Gov. Boreman and his residence; 18th- and 19th-century tools and weapons, regionally produced glassware, and the history of Ohio River navigation and transportation.
General admission to the museum, including a self-guided tour of the bathroom exhibit, is $4 for adults and $2 for children 3-12. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information on the museum or Blennerhassett Island State Park, call 304-420-4800 or visit www.blennerhassettislandstatepark.com.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.