Current and Coming features detailed information about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania. Originated as “Currents.” Retitled “Current and Coming,” Winter 2003, and then retitled “Out and About,” Fall 2005. Revived as “Current and Coming,” Winter 2013. Ran regularly, Spring 1984 to Spring 2008, and then occasionally, Winter 2013 to Spring 2015.

Mammoth Scale

Sometime about 1808, renowned Philadelphia physician Caspar Wistar (1761-1818) – for whom the city’s Wistar Institute is named – asked sculptor William Rush (1756-1833) to create a series of large-scale anatomical models. Rush, known chiefly as a maker of civic statuary and ships’ figureheads, responded with the strangest works of his career: a massive inner ear, a cumbersome jaw, and nearly twenty sizable models of various human body parts in wood and papier-mache. Of these commissions, seven models have survived and are on view for the first time in history. Mam­moth Scale: The Anatomical Sculptures of William Rush is currently being shown at the Wistar Institute.

The size of Rush’s anatomical sculptures stems from the popularity of the medical lectures Wistar gave as an adjunct professor and, beginning in 1808, the chair of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania. Teaching classes with as many as five hundred students, Wistar found it impossible to show minute anatomical structures to such large audiences. He instructed Rush to create the oversized models so that his lectures would be understandable to all who attended.

Mammoth Scale displays for the first time several of Rush’s anatomical sculptures previously believed to be lost. It is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on his anatomical sculptures and the only to include all known surviving pieces. They are exhibited as both works of art and as vehicles made expressly for medical education. In addition to these models, the collections include preserved specimens used to compare anatomical structures in states of health and disease, the dominant method of biological study in the nineteenth century. The Wistar Institute is housed in a historic 1894 building designed by two noted Philadelphia architects, the brothers George W. and William D. Hewitt. The building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rush, the son of a ship’s carpenter, was one of the country’s first native-born sculptors. He was instrumental in the founding of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in 1805, and was admired by many. Among his later nineteenth-century admirers was Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), one of America’s foremost realist artists, who painted William Rush Carving His Alle­gorical Figure of the Schuylkill (1877). Eakins depicted the sculptor carving his wooden form for his symbolic work from a posed nude model (see “The Fairmount Water Works: ‘One of the very prettiest spots the eye can look upon’” by William D. Owen, Spring 1994).

Born in Philadelphia and educated at the University of Edinburgh, Wistar was the grandson of Caspar Wistar (1696-1752), an early glassmaker and patriarch of an influential Philadelphia family (see “Wyck: Witness to a Way of Life” by John M. Groff, Stephanie Grau­man Wolf, and Sandra Mackenzie Lloyd, Winter 2003). He taught at the College of Philadelphia, from 1789 to 1791, and beginning in 1792 at the University of Pennsylvania, established that year by the merger of the college with the University of the State of Pennsylvania. He wrote the first American textbook on anatomy, the two-volume System of Anatomy (1811-1814), and served as president of the American Philosophical Society.

The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, founded in 1892, was named for Caspar Wistar by his great-nephew Isaac Jones Wistar (1827-1905), entrepreneur, brigadier general during the Civil War (wounded four times), prominent lawyer, and financier who amassed his fortune by investing in the building of railroads. The nation’s first independent medical research facility, the Wistar Institute became, in 1972, a National Cancer Institute – designated cancer center in basic science research, one of only eight in the nation, fulfilling Isaac Jones Wistar’s cen­tury-old dream of a center for “new and original research.” Wistar Institute discoveries have led to the development of vaccines for such diseases as rabies and rubella, the identification of genes associated with breast, lung, and prostrate cancer, and the development of monoclonal antibodies and other significant research technologies and tools.

Guest curator for Mam­moth Scale: The Anatomical Sculptures of William Rush is Alexander Nemerov, professor of art history at Yale University. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue in which Nemerov explores the broader cultural and political meanings of the sculptures and examines the relationship between democracy and scale. In the early nineteenth century, large scale signified democracy, and the models created by Rush announce that anatomical study, previously the province of the privileged few, was dramatically enlarged to become the democratic domain of many.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently purchased its first sculpture by William Rush for its American Wing, a large carving of an eagle, perched atop a globe, whose wingspan measures sixty-eight inches. Rush carved the figure for St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Race Street in Philadelphia in 1811, roughly the same time he produced the models for Caspar Wistar. Rush charged the church seventy dollars for the carving; the museum used funds from five separate accounts to acquire the piece from a Man­hattan art gallery for an undisclosed price. The museum’s acquisition elevates Rush in terms of recognition as an American sculptor.

Mam­moth Scale: The Anatomical Sculptures of William Rush continues through mid-October 2003.

To obtain more information, write: Wistar Institute, 3601 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-4268; telephone (215) 898-3700; or visit the Wistar Institute website. Admission is free.



All the Art in Me: in Search of Horace Pippin, currently on exhibit at the Reading Public Museum in Reading, Berks Coun­ty, brings together some of the artist’s best work in landscape, portraiture, still life, and biblical and historical subjects. The exhibition, which runs through Sunday, April 20, includes loans from a number of prestigious institutions, among them the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, and the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. All the Art in Me is supported in part by the Pennsylva­nia Historical and Museum Commission.

Horace Pippin (1888-1946) was one of the country’s principal African American artists and among the foremost painters of the twentieth century (see “Pippin” by Judith E. Stein, Spring 1994). Born in West Chester, Chester County, he began, according to his own account, to make pictures by the age of seven. In 1895, he and his mother Harriett moved to Goshen, New York, where he attended school. At fourteen, he found work doing odd jobs on a farm and a year later began unloading coal for a living. In 1912, he took a job in a storage warehouse and enlisted in the U.S. Army five years later. He was sent to France during World War I, where he was badly wounded. He was honorably discharged in 1919 and mar­ried the twice-widowed Jennie Fether­stone Wade Giles the following year.

In the twenties, Pippin rekindled his interest in art. He initially took up art as a therapy for the injury to his right arm that had left him permanently disabled. He used his left hand to guide his right arm, at first creating scenes on wooden panels using a hot poker. In 1930, he completed his first painting, End of War: Starting Home, a scene from World War I. “When I was a boy I loved to make pictures,” Pip­pin wrote, “but it was World War I that brought out all the art in me …. I can never forget suffering, and I will never forget sunset … so I came home with all of it in my mind and I paint from it today.” By the 1940s, Pippin, a master of design, color, and composition, gained a national reputation with his renderings of African Americans.

The exact circumstances of his emergence as an artist are unclear, but throughout the thirties, his work was informally exhibited in West Chester businesses and by the following decade it was widely exhibited and became fashionable along the Main Line, the prestigious suburbs west of Philadelphia His work came to the attention of art critic Christian Brinton (1870-1942) who, with illustrator N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), convinced Pippin to become the first African American to par­ticipate in the Chester County Art Associ­ation’s sixth annual exhibition. The Muse­um of Modern Art’s 1938 exhibition Mas­ters of Modern Painting toured nine United States cities and brought Pippin to the attention of collector Albert C. Barnes (1872-1951), founder of the Barnes Foun­dation in Merion, and Philadelphia gallery owner Robert Carlen (1906-1990). Eventually, Pippin gained further prominence through exhibitions in Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago, as well as through popular periodicals including Time, Newsweek, Life, and Vogue. Today his work is held by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection, the Barnes Founda­tion, and the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

All the Art in Me: In Search of Horace Pip­pin continues through Sunday, April 20 [2003].

For more information, write: Reading Public Museum, 500 Museum Rd., Read­ing, PA 19611; telephone (610) 371-5850; or visit the Reading Public Museum website. Admission is charged.


Chocolate Centennial

Five-cent trolley fares, victory gardens, afternoons strolling the rose garden, kick­-the-can and stickball games on balmy summer evenings. . . . These and other fond memories of life in the Dauphin County community of Hershey – known by many throughout the world as “Chocolatetown USA” – are the nucleus of a major exhibition recently unveiled by the Hershey Museum, 100 Years of Hershey Neighborhoods.

Museum curators describe the exhibition as a “visual scrapbook” that showcases everyday life in the Derry Township community from 1903 to the present. In 1902, candymaker Milton Snavely Hershey (1857-1945) purchased twelve hundred acres of fields and pastures for his chocolate factory and company town. On March 2, 1903, he broke ground for what was to be the largest chocolate factory in the world. He involved himself in nearly every detail of planning, personally helping to lay out the plant’s floor plans and the grid of the community’s streets. He even named the thoroughfares intersecting at the town square, Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues, and several other streets after varieties of cocoa beans, including Caracas, Java, Areba and Granada.

Hershey planned for more than just housing for his workers. Convinced that urban living was unhealthy, he ordered large yards for each house and trees to line streets and roads. He set aside one hundred acres for a recreation area. His Hersheypark included a band shell, a baseball diamond, and a boathouse. His desire for green space led to a zoo, a public garden, and five golf courses. He eventually built a bank, an arena, a community center, a sports stadium, a drug store, a department store, an inn, a grand hotel, a fire department, and several restaurants. Oddly enough, Hershey, home to twelve thousand residents, is actually an unincorporated community that does not have its own government but is simply a collection of residences and businesses within the larger political subdivision of Derry Township.

100 Years of Hershey Neighborhoods focuses on fourteen specific areas, including Cocoa Avenue, Hockersville (known as the village of Swatara), Palmdale (or Mechanicsburg, as it was originally called, which is actually an extension of the Lebanon County borough of Palmyra which protrudes into Dauphin County), Sand Hill, Derry Road, and School Plaza. Current and former residents have shared their experiences with personal narratives, photographs, objects, and ephemera. On exhibit are dog tags, ration books, and related pieces from the World War II era; a parasol carried during Hershey’s tenth anniversary parade in 1913; implements from a 1950s kitchen; a silver loving cup presented in 1913 to Milton S. Hershey by his employees; memorabilia from family owned-businesses, such as the original freezer used by Mazzoli’s Ice Cream, noted for its Italian specialties, such as tor­toni, spumoni, and gelato; and the earliest known (and recently restored) map of Hershey, circa 1903.

The exhibit evolved from the Hershey Museum’s hugely successful Community Scrapbook Project. Geared to the preservation and interpretation of local history, the project surpassed all expectations, firmly laying the foundation for this comprehensive, yearlong exhibit. The project attracted articles of clothing, kitchen and cooking-related items, toys, photographs, home movies, journals and diaries, letters, documents, and pieces used in local schools. Both the scrapbook project and the exhibition incorporate family histories to create a wider historical record of community life.

100 Years of Hershey Neighborhoods will remain on view through February 2004. It is the first installation in the museum’s new temporary exhibit gallery. The museum is located adjacent to Hersheypark, within walking distance of Hershey’s Chocolate World.

For additional information, write: Her­shey Museum, 170 West Hersheypark Dr., Hershey, PA 17033; telephone (717) 534- 3439; or visit the Her­shey Museum website. There is an admission fee.