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.

Chester County Photographs

Sixty thousand photo­graphs are currently being catalogued and preserved at the Chester County Historical Society’s photography archives through a one hundred thou­sand dollar grant provided by the J.N. Pew, Jr., Charitable Trust.

The collection includes examples of almost every pho­tographic format, including the daguerreotype, a photo­graph on a light-sensitive silver-coated metallic plate and one of the earliest photo­graphic techniques. The ar­chives has a rare example of a daguerreotype, dating to 1846, made only seven years after the invention of this process (see “Fathers of Modern Pho­tography: The Brothers Langenheim” in the fall 1987 issue).

A photographer skilled in this method was George Pyle, a Chester Countian who stud­ied daguerreotypy in the 1840s. Pyle was unique in his field because he photographed his subjects in a relaxed, natu­ral manner rather than in rigid poses. His camera, register, letters, and meticulously kept formulas remain in the ar­chives’ collection and are of great value in tracing the his­tory of early photography.

Many of the images in the collection are invaluable to researchers because they de­pict landscapes, buildings and artifacts that no longer exist. The compilation is not only a history of Chester County and Chester countians, but of photography itself. Ambrotypes, lantern slides, stereo­graphs, and tintypes are just a few examples of photographic media housed in the collec­tion.

To date, there has been great demand for the historic photographs. They have added a new dimension to Chester County Historical Society museum exhibits, including the antique doll collection and a recent exhibit of trade signs and datestones. The photographs have been requested for historical re­search, publications, and sim­ply to satisfy the curiosity of intrigued visitors.

Photo Archivist Pamela Powell, assisted by eight vol­unteers, is arranging and de­scribing the society’s photographs. She will also implement a computerized data retrieval system for the information the project will generate. The system, which can store up to thirty mega­bytes of information, will be operational sometime this fall.

The photo archives is lo­cated in the library at the Chester County Historical Society’s Memorial Hall, 225 North High Street, West Ches­ter, PA 19380. The library is open 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and Wednesday, 1 to 8 P.M. For more information telephone (215) 692-4800.


Ethnic Weddings

The marriage ceremony in America is probably the single most important and pervasive celebration of one’s heritage and culture. Throughout the United States many couples have retained ethnic traditions in their weddings, but a keen desire to reconcile contempo­rary ” American” tastes with traditional ethnic customs has lead to ceremonial changes. The changes most often occur in the festivities following the ceremony. For example, during a Cambodian wedding two years ago, the bride exchanged her traditional dress worn at a ceremony at home for a west­ern bridal gown for the recep­tion at a Chinese restaurant. At a Laotian wedding in 1984, where such traditions as a “Lamekiew,” a traditional folk love song in which the bride and groom ask questions of each other, were observed, dancing to blaring American contemporary rock followed the traditional ethnic dancing.

The ceremonial sharing of food is another common cus­tom, familiar to Americans when the bride and groom feed each other the first slice of wedding cake. Many Asian couples also engage in cus­toms of offering food to one another. Often the food is given on a string or stick so that the two lean so close to­gether that they merge in a kiss. Traditionally, Asian coup­les were “matched” and had often never seen their prospec­tive mates. Games such as these serve to relax the “matched” couple, yet persist even when the couple is Amer­ican born and know each other – and their families­ – well.

On view through Novem­ber 28 [1987], an exhibit entitled “Ethnic Weddings in America” will be open free to the public at the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in Philadelphia. The exhibition will center around eighty photographs made during the past twelve years by New York based photogra­pher Katrina Thomas, whose work poignantly documents wedding traditions which have survived among various ethnic groups in the United States. The photographs will be sup­plemented by traditional wed­ding clothing and artifacts, such as a chuppa, a Jewish wedding canopy. Thomas’ photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek and Time.

Visiting hours at the inter­nationally acclaimed Balch Institute are Monday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. For more information, write: Balch Institute for Ethnic Stud­ies, 18 South Seventh St., Philadelphia, PA 19106; or telephone (215) 925-8090.


Edward Redfield Retrospective

Edward Redfield, a Penn­sylvania artist who helped set the standards for American landscape painting during the early twentieth century, was considered a leader in the painting of snow scenes. He sometimes anchored his easels to trees to keep them from blowing away while working outdoors in unfavorable weather conditions, in order that he might capture the glaring, reflective quality of midday snow.

The first complete retro­spective of his work will be on view at the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley through Sunday, January 10, 1988. The exhibit, entitled “Paintings of Edward Re­dfield,” is comprised of forty­-six paintings on loan from thirty-two institutions and private collections.

Redfield, who lived from 1869 to 1965, is well known for his monumental scenes of Bucks County. These works, as well as lesser known scenes of the Poconos and Maine, are included in the exhibit. His style and method of painting was associated with the Penn­sylvania impressionists, a school of painters that began around 1898 in the New Hope area and flourished for about fifty years.

Exhibiting his work at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the National Acad­emy of Design, Redfield be­came, along with Pennsylvania impressionists Walter Elmer Schofield and Daniel Garber, a source of inspiration to genera­tions of American painters.

A one hundred and thirty page illustrated catalogue, with an essay by guest curator Thomas Folk, an expert in early twentieth century Ameri­can art, accompanies the exhibit.

The Allentown Art Mu­seum is located at Fifth and Court Streets in Allentown. Admission is free. Hours are 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 P.M. Sunday. Additional infor­mation may be obtained by writing: Allentown Art Mu­seum, P.O. Box 117, Allen­town, PA 18105; or by telephoning (215) 432-4333.


Children’s Garden at Longwood

For a public pleasure garden accustomed to dealing in vast green spaces and mega­-plantings of annual flowers and bulbs, the diminutive Children’s Garden installed at Longwood Gardens is a sur­prise. Measuring a mere fif­teen hundred square feet, it is tucked tidily into a vest-pocket corner of Longwood’s sprawl­ing conservatory.

In the eyes of adults who visit the display during its one year run, which continues through May 1988, the Children’s Garden appears as an intricately engineered space smaller than a tennis court or an average swimming pool. To the children for whom the garden is designed, however, it seems a wondrous size, uniquely their own to explore. To University of Delaware graduate student Catherine Eberbach, who originated the concept, it represents her master’s thesis and the culmi­nation of a two year course in managing and administering public gardens offered by Longwood’s graduate program in public horticulture adminis­tration.

In her first months at Long­wood, Eberbach observed that the world-famed gardens were geared largely to adults and that visiting children on an outing with their parents often became restless and tired rather than turned-on by the garden’s grandeur. They needed a spot of their own, she felt, an “adventure gar­den” filled with opportunities to smell and touch, seek and discover, climb and view Nat­ure’s marvels – a spot packed with plenty of “do’s” and very few “don’ts.”

The schematic for the Chil­dren’s Garden grew directly from the youngsters’ com­ments and drawings that Eber­bach gathered from several hundred first to fifth graders at two different schools. Their ideas are evident everywhere in the enticing design. The children wanted a play space their own size. Eberbach re­sponded by scaling two of the garden’s four quadrants to six to nine year old children. In these areas, the Tea Garden and the Maze, trellises are only five feet high, benches have thirteen inch high seats, shrubbery walls are a mere three feet, and the climb­-through exit tunnel is just two feet high.

The children asked for a place to be by themselves, yet within sight of and proximity to the security of adults. The Children’s Garden has a twist­ing, turning, one-way circula­tion that provides a wealth of private niches where plantings can be explored and fragrant herbs sniffed. Yet, rising above the child-scaled area is a Tree House structure of adult scale where parents can be seen and can watch youngsters as they progress through the Maze.

The Garden had to provide some excitement and adven­ture to pique young imagina­tions. Eberbach’s answer was in the water-dome fountains that welcome visitors to the display and invite inquisitive fingers to test the water with­out soaking clothes. Close to the fountains, a ramp leading up to the Tree House is wait­ing to be climbed, and once atop the perch, both children and adults can enjoy a vista of the garden experiences ahead. The Tree House is an adult’s last stop before leaving, since the remainder of the garden belongs only to the children.

The children expressed a love for bright colors, and the display is liberally splashed with bold nasturtium oranges and reds while brilliant yellow knobs sit atop each fence post. Plantings will come and go in the year the garden exists, but eye-catching color will always be one of the main features.

The Children’s Garden is located in an area adjoining Longwood’s East Conserva­tory, and is open every day of the year from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. The Children’s Garden is available to all who have paid regular Gardens admission.

Longwood Gardens is lo­cated on US Route 1, three miles northeast of Kennett Square and thirty miles west of Philadelphia in the historic Brandywine Valley. For more information, write: Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA 19348-0501; or telephone (215) 388-6741.


Gone Fishing!

Fishing is an activity that has woven itself into the his­toric fabric of the Delaware Valley, intertwining with Phila­delphia’s economic and social patterns, since the founding of the first colonies. The role of fishing from the late seven­teenth century to the twentieth century, in the lives of banker and blacksmith alike, within an area that extends from Cape Henlopen to the Susquehan­na’s east bank is being ex­plored in an exhibit of three hundred objects and artifacts. The exhibit is on view at the Philadelphia Maritime Mu­seum until Monday, October 5 [1987].

“Gone Fishing: A History of Fishing in the Bay, River and Sea” occupies three separate galleries and chronicles how and where Americans fished, portraying the idyllic, as well as tragic moments of commercial, recreational, fresh and salt water fishing.

The exhibit incorporates fine and decorative arts, pho­tographs and objects, such as antique tackle rods, reels, replicas of shad boats and more. On display are “A Plea­sure Boat for Fishing on the Delaware” by Benjamin Frank­lin; the trade card engraving of Edward Pole, the first mer­chant in America to advertise artificial flies for sale; and paintings by Thomas Eakins, Thomas Birch, George Cope and Frank Schoonover.

In addition to the exhibit, the Philadelphia Maritime Museum is also sponsoring a series of related events which will enable participants to experience the magic of fish­ing. There will be a shad fish­ing demonstration, a “Fish Scales” concert, a “Fish Tales: Liars’ Contest” and other pro­grams.

The exhibit is presented in conjunction with the U.S. Constitution’s Bicentennial Celebration, We the People 200, and highlights preserva­tion and conservation issues, fishing rights and laws.

Additional information on “Gone Fishing!” and related museum events may be ob­tained by writing: Philadelphia Maritime Museum, 321 Chest­nut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106; or by telephoning (215) 925-5439. The museum is located in the city’s historic district, and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M.


Please Touch!

The exhibition “Red, White and Blue: Childhood and Citizenship” at the Please Touch Museum for Children commemorates the bicenten­nial of the Constitution for children. This lively hands-on, thought-provoking exhibition is part of the We the People 200 celebration taking place in Philadelphia.

The exhibition provides the opportunity for young children to become aware of the bicentennial and to discuss with their parents and teachers the things that characterize America and being American. Children will be given a chance to exercise their right to free speech through role­ playing in a political conven­tion and to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills by run­ning a lemonade stand. Also, children will be able to partici­pate in a parade with puppets. Other activities highlight how democratic values are prac­ticed at home and in school. Photographs and displays illustrate the many ways chil­dren are taught patriotic val­ues.

“Red, White and Blue” continues through spring 1988. The exhibition brings together scholarly resources in an enter­taining yet intellectually valid manner. Located in the muse­um’s second floor gallery, “Red, White and Blue” fea­tures an interactive mural with a podium and costumes for role playing. The panel also includes quotations and arti­facts representative of a child’s first experiences with Ameri­can nationality. From there, visitors pass to the core of the exhibition, which deals with three major themes: individu­alism, prosperity and democ­racy. Through hands-on presentations, children partici­pate in dramatic play using a clubhouse, puppets and toys, patriotic uniforms and a schoolroom. The final section focuses on how people have been assimilated or excluded from the process of full citizen­ship. It will show the persist­ence of customs brought by immigrant families to the United States, and how chil­dren have accommodated themselves to the old and new. On loan from the Smithsonian Institution is a George Wash­ington costume, worn by chil­dren to commemorate the George Washington Bicenten­nial in 1932.

While the exhibition is being presented, a variety of related special events, work­shops and theater programs are planned, including an “All American Party” with games and a special Veterans’ Day celebration featuring flag mak­ing. Workshops and theater programs during the year will highlight American stories and music.

An accompanying cata­logue containing explanatory essays and educational activi­ties for children and adults will also be available. It serves to extend the museum visit to the home or classroom by expand­ing on concepts presented in the exhibition. The illustra­tions show the many ways we symbolize our nationality through artifacts and practices running the gamut from the traditional to the ephemeral. Important issues are raised about what groups have em­braced American nationality in all its manifestations, and about what traditions persist and what tensions, inconsis­tencies and contradictions still exist.

Please Touch Museum for Children is the only accredited museum designed specifically for children and school groups while also maintaining perma­nent collections of cultural artifacts and playthings for the study of childlife and the his­tory of childhood.

Please Touch Museum for Children is located near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, and is com­pletely accessible to the handi­capped. Visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.; Sunday 12:30 to 4:30 P.M.; closed on Mondays. Admission is charged. For more informa­tion, write: Please Touch Mu­seum for Children, 210 North Twenty-first St., Philadelphia, PA 19103; or telephone (215) 963-0667.


Bird Carvings

“Ulysses was a perfection­ist, and the most important part of the carving to him was the tiny white reflection spot on the painted eye. If that wasn’t painted perfectly, the bird wasn’t right,” remembered a friend of Ulysses E. Reynolds, whose penchant for perfection is reflected in the one hundred and twenty hand-carved wooden song­birds on exhibit at the Baldwin-Reynolds House Museum in Meadville.

Most of the birds on exhibit were carved in the 1930s after the successful and multi­-talented carver retired from farming. He held patents on a fanning chaff-mill, a milking machine and a power-driven cream separator.

Born in rural Crawford County in 1866, he married Clara Belle Hickernell in 1895. Childless, the couple spent much time with nieces and nephews and neighbors’ chil­dren who played with his painted birds as most children today play with dolls and toys. He also painted in oils and built musical instruments on which he and his wife often performed at church socials.

Ulysses S. Reynolds worked entirely with a pocket knife from a basswood block, sanding then painting the finished carving with oils. The collection is valuable because he carved birds which are extinct, or seldom seen, in western Pennsylvania. Of special interest to contempo­rary craftsmen are techniques which Reynolds developed for dealing with unusual prob­lems of presentation. He out­fitted several of the large birds with inserted bills, while other large specimens – such as the ruffed grouse – have tin tails. All are mounted on natural wood perches.

The carvings were recently “discovered” by a professor who is also a carver. Hearing that some carved birds were stored at the historic house museum in Meadville, he contacted a curator who produced thirteen cases of Rey­nolds’ artistry from storage. The cache was an exciting “find” for both the professor and the museum, particularly since so many examples of one carver’s work were intact in one location. The carvings had been cleaned, inventoried, evaluated and displayed by the North American Wildfowl Museum in Salisbury, Mary­land. They returned recently to the Baldwin-Reynolds House Museum, where they will be featured on regular tours.

To obtain more information about visiting hours and spe­cial group tours, write: Craw­ford County Historical Society, 848 North Main St., Meadville, PA 16335; or telephone (814) 724-6080. The historical society operates the Baldwin-Reynolds House Museum, which is located at 639 Terrace Street, in a beautiful park setting over­looking the French Creek Valley.


Support Needed

The popular image of John Harris, founder of Harrisburg, as a rough and ready pioneer dressed in buckskins and a fur cap represents only a part of the man’s remarkable life. His few surviving possessions, such as a simple, but elegant, silver coffee pot in the Chip­pendale style, suggest that he was also a sophisticated man with a taste for the best in contemporary style.

The Harris coffee pot will soon become a major addition to The State Museum’s decora­tive arts collections. Made for John Harris in 1770 by Thomas Shield of Philadelphia, this artifact is a magnificent exam­ple of eighteenth century deco­rative art and is now the focus of a major fund-raising cam­paign by the Friends of the State Museum.

For nearly two hundred years, the silver coffee pot has been handed down from fam­ily to family, and the present owner thinks it is appropriate that the coffee pot be returned to the city that Harris estab­lished, and that it have a per­manent home at The State Museum.

Having received a matching grant of eight thousand dollars from the Pennsylvania Histori­cal and Museum Commission towards the purchase of the pot, the Friends is seeking the balance needed to acquire this important artifact. Individuals wishing to assist in the acqui­sition of this important object may send donations to: Friends of The State Museum, William Penn Memorial Build­ing, P.O. Box 1026, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1026.


Landscape by Charles W. Knapp

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has recently added a landscape painting by Charles W. Knapp to its growing Pennsylvania Collection of Fine Arts through the generosity of an anony­mous donor. This well-known Philadelphia landscape artist is best remembered for his quiet scenes, usually along water­ways. Knapp painted in a soft but precise technique that is considered traditional.

Much of his work is of the Delaware River Valley and Chesapeake Bay areas, al­though he also spent consider­able time painting in the Adirondack mountains of New York.

Charles W. Knapp was born in Philadelphia in 1823, and died there in 1900. His style and preference for landscape include him as a second gener­ation Hudson School artist. This is the first painting by Charles W. Knapp to enter the Pennsylvania Collection of Fine Arts.

For more information re­garding the fine arts collection of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, write: Donald A. Winer, Cura­tor of Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com­mission, P.O. Box 1026, Harris­burg, PA 17108-1026.


Chairs, Writs and Coverlets

The staff of the Chester County Historical Society will open three exhibits this fall. “Two Hundred Years of Chairs and Chairmaking in the Col­lection of the Chester County Historical Society” opened during the summer, and “Chester County Coverlets” and “Writs, Petitions, and Indictments: Documents of the Courts of Chester County” opened September 5 [1987]. All are outgrowths of current research and are designed to introduce visitors to the rich variety of the society’s collections, as well as provide interdiscipli­nary insights into those collec­tions.

“Two Hundred Years of Chairs” includes forty-five chairs, which detail a wide range of seventeenth, eight­eenth and nineteenth century chairs made or owned by residents of Chester County or the Delaware Valley. The ex­hibit is the most comprehen­sive of the region’s seating furniture ever mounted. On display will be some exciting recent additions to the collec­tion as well as many chairs never before seen by the public.

Over the past year more than two hundred chairs have been catalogued by curator Margaret Bleecker Blades, organizer of the exhibit. As­sisted by volunteer Howard Rosenthal, Blades has studied eighteenth century inventories in the Chester County Ar­chives and examined contem­porary newspapers for cabinetmakers’ advertise­ments. Her research has taken her to Winterthur Museum’s decorative arts photographic collection where she compared the society’s chairs with photo­graphs of chairs with docu­mented Chester County histories in other public and private collections.

Highlighted in the exhibit are an eighteenth century wainscot armchair which de­scended in the Hibbard family of Darby Township, Thomas U. Walter’s heavily carved armchair designed for the U.S. House of Representatives, and one of only eight known eight­eenth century six-slat ladder­back chairs in existence.

Many pieces, including an eighteenth century settle made by Abraham Darlington, are inlaid with the date and the initials of their original owners and have been documented through an unbroken chain of family ownership until their donation to the society. In addition, several labeled exam­ples of the work of Joseph Jones, a nineteenth century West Chester chairmaker, allow comparison of the subtle varieties in construction and design found in one individ­ual’s shop.

“Two Hundred Years of Chairs” will be accompanied by a thirty-two page exhibit catalogue containing twenty­-five black and white photo­graphs and an essay by Margaret Bleecker Blades.

“Chester County Coverlets” is an exhibit composed of over sixty coverlets and offers a unique opportunity to study a large number of coverlets made in one region. Assistant Curator Sarah J. Wilson catalogued the society’s textile collections in preparation for the exhibit as part of a research project funded by the Pennsyl­vania Historical and Museum Commission.

Most nineteenth century weavers established them­selves in shops in small towns and supported themselves with commissions from local clients. Customers visited the shop to select a pattern and often supplied the weaver with hand-dyed wool in the popu­lar colors of red, blue and green. A significant proportion of coverlets are also woven in shades of brown indicating a unique regional preference for more muted colors. Further research may uncover prefer­ences for patterns as well.

Featured in the exhibit will be the only three known cover­lets by Chester County weaver Casper Peterman, a German immigrant whose coverlet pattern book is in the collec­tion of the Metropolitan Mu­seum of Art.

“Writs, Petitions, and In­dictments: Documents of the Courts of Chester County” is an exhibit focusing on specific cases tried in the courts of Chester County from 1681 to 1969. In addition to documents from the Chester County Ar­chives, the exhibit will include newspaper dippings, photo­graphs, paintings and other items from the library and museum collections.

Selected primary material from court cases such as the 1838 civil suits involving Re­becca Lukens, owner of the Brandywine Iron Works, and the notorious murder case of Zachariah Walker in 1911 will be on display. “Two Hundred Years of Chairs” runs through Saturday, January 10, 1988; the other two exhibits run through Sunday, April 10, 1988. The Chester County Historical Society is located at 225 North High Street, West Chester, PA 19380. Admission is charged. Additional information may be obtained by telephoning (215) 692-4800.