Charles Willson Peale was primarily known as a portrait painter, but he also had an absorbing interest in natural history. In 1784 he founded the first natural history museum in the United States, in Philadelphia. Peale unearthed and reconstructed a mastodon in 1801, which became the museum's main attraction. The mastodon was discovered on a farm near Newburgh, NY. Peale directed the excavation, with the assistance of one of his sons, Rembrandt Peale.