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.

Sundries and Ceramics

“Sundries of Earthen Ware and Stone: Ceramic Forms from the Past,” an exhibition recently opened at the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, features exam­ples of decorative and func­tional ceramic forms once common in the county, but which are no longer in use in contemporary society. Many of these objects, which date from the late eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries, are on view for the first time.

With technological ad­vances, many ordinary, every­day articles, such as wash basins and chamber pots, have become obsolete. Handsome shaving mugs – once decorated with symbols, personalized with the owner’s name and often depicting his occupation or profession – have become victims of changing times and lifestyles. World War I intro­duced the Gillette safety razor, and barber shops throughout the country lost their cus­tomers who found they could shave at home; consequently, shaving mugs lost their popularity.

“Sundries of Earthen Ware and Stone” is a term taken from early Chester County inventories that noted the presence of a wide variety of ceramics even during the colo­nial period. Chester County claimed several noted potter­ies, some of which are repre­sented by pieces in the exhibit. Works from the Vickers Pot­tery, Darlington Cope Pottery, Mount Jordan Pottery and the Milton Hoopes Pottery are included in “Sundries of Earthen Ware and Stone.”

Both local potteries and imported wares contributed to the great proliferation of styles and forms. Chocolate pots, preserve jars, cake pots and tea lights are among the ob­jects on display. The tea light, also known as a veilleuse, is a graceful four-piece ceramic form, combining a small tea pot and a matching warming stand that could be used at the bedside. Other pieces range from an ingenious insect trap in which sticky molasses served as bait to a rather ele­gant salt glazed chicken water­ing fountain. Also on view is a gilded Tucker porcelain bap­tism bowl, given by Joseph Hemphill of Philadelphia to the First Presbyterian Church of West Chester. The bowl, made by the company consid­ered by many to be the country’s first porcelain manu­facturer, is dated February 22, 1824.

“Sundries of Earthen Ware and Stone” presents visitors with the opportunity to see an unusual and intriguing selec­tion of stoneware, earthenware and porcelain, particularly objects no longer either com­monly used or found, drawn from the historical society’s rich collection. The exhibition will remain on view through October 8 [1989].

The Chester County Histor­ical Society houses one of the most outstanding regional decorative arts and crafts col­lections in the United States. Its archives and library are repositories of more than three centuries of records pertaining to local, family and govern­ment history.

Visiting hours are: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.; Wednesday, 1 to 8 P.M.; and Sunday, Noon to 4 P.M. There is an admission charge.

For more information, write: Chester County Histori­cal Society, 225 North High St., West Chester, PA 19380; or telephone (215) 692-4800.


Quilt Museum

Located in the heart of what is commonly called the “Penn­sylvania Dutch Country,” the People’s Place Quilt Museum recently opened in the quaint village of Intercourse, Lancas­ter County. 1t is the first per­manent museum collection and exhibition of antique Amish quilts in the United States.

The People’s Place Quilt Museum features a wide vari­ety of both full-size and diminutive crib quilts spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One of the oldest examples in the collection is a nineteenth century quilt in the Nine Patch pattern made in Ohio. Other designs include Sunshine and Shadow, Center Diamond, Tumbling Blocks, Lone Star, Log Cabin, Baskets, Bars and Carolina Lily. The museum’s related holdings include a small collection of Amish decorative arts, such as dolls, doll quilts, socks, minia­ture wooden objects and samplers.

Antique Amish quilts com­bine exceptional craftsmanship and striking design; elaborate stitching holds together the three layers of each quilt: the top, backing and interior lin­ing. Art for art’s sake is frowned upon within the Amish community, and the vibrant colors and bold geo­metric patterns found on many of these quilts may seem inconsistent with the Amish emphasis on discipline and simplicity. However, most of these quilts were intended as warm, durable bedcovers rather than items for display. Some were clearly called
“good” quilts, meant for Sun­day use when visitors came calling.

Beauty and fine, exacting workmanship are cherished traditions among the Amish. Meticulously tended gardens, correctly shocked stalks of field corn, well groomed ani­mals, carefully maintained barns and well kept houses typify the Amish way of life. Their quilts are a joyous and individual expression of their personality and taste.

The People’s Place Quilt Museum is located on the second floor of the Old Coun­try Store in Intercourse, the oldest store in the area, about ten miles east of Lancaster. Visiting hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. There is an admission fee.

Additional information regarding the changing ex­hibits at the museum is availa­ble by writing: People’s Place Quilt Museum, Main St., Intercourse, PA 17534; or by telephoning (717) 768-7171.


Impres­sionist Masterpieces

“Masterpieces of Impres­sionism and Post-Impres­sionism: The Annenberg Col­lection” is on view at the Phila­delphia Museum of Art through Sunday, September 17 [1989]. Assembled by Mr. and Mrs. Walter H. An­nenberg since the mid-1950s, the collection represents the many facets of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, encompassing landscape, figure painting and still life. Included will be splendid examples of the work of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, De­gas, Renoir, Boudin, Corot, Manet, Morisot, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Bonnard, Vuillard and Braque. While each of the artists has been explored through mono­graphs and exhibitions, this extraordinary collection – one of the most important still in private hands – has never before been publicly displayed in its entirety. Also shown will be a group of more than eighty drawings from two Cezanne sketchbooks given to the mu­seum by the Annenbergs in 1987.

“Masterpieces of Impres­sionism and Post-Impressionism” provides a striking survey of paintings, water­colors and drawings by the generation of artists who, beginning in Paris in the mid­-nineteenth century, forever changed the way the world looks at art. The paintings and watercolors by Cezanne in­clude a portrait of his uncle done entirely with a palette knife in the mid-1860s, one of the few truly resolved works from the artist’s violently searching early period; exam­ples of his monumental still lifes and studies of bathers; and the serene achievement of his most panoramic view of Mont Sainte-Victoire, painted shortly before his death in 1906. The sketchbook draw­ings encompass the full range and breadth of Cezanne’s subjects, from landscape and still life to studies after sculp­ture in the Louvre.

Also featured in the exhibi­tion will be six paintings by Monet, including a rare ap­proach to modern genre paint­ing, The Bench (1873), a colorful, vigorously painted composition which has an enigmatic quality rare in his works. The five paintings by Van Gogh include the finest, and in all probability the first, of five versions of his cele­brated Portrait of Mme Roulin, or The Cradle (1889). Six works by Renoir range from the small Portrait of Eugene Murer (1877), a refined, understated picture, to the monumental Children of Catulle Mendes (1889), one of the artist’s most charming and characteristic portraits of young girls. Four heroic oils by Gauguin from his Tahitian period show that master at his fullest power, and Vuillard’s The Album (circa 1895) stands among the greatest paintings by that artist in any collection in the world.

The Annenberg Collection, comprising fifty works, is astonishing for the rigor of its selection, and constitutes a comprehensive survey of the period’s greatest achieve­ments. The collection is all the more impressive, considering that it represents a field popu­lar among museums and pri­vate collectors since the turn of the century.

“Masterpieces of Impres­sionism and Post-Impres­sionism: The Annenberg Col­lection” will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

For more information about this or current exhibitions, write: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Parkway at Twenty-Sixth St., Philadelphia, PA 19101; or telephone (215) 763-8100. There is an admission charge.


Folk Art Sampler

In response to the public’s burgeoning interest in, and appreciation of, traditional hand-made American arts and crafts, the Westmoreland Mu­seum of Art, Greensburg, has organized a major exhibition of objects originating primarily in Pennsylvania. Entitled “A Sampler of American Folk Art from Pennsylvania Collec­tions,” the exhibition includes a wide variety of objects, dat­ing from the earliest Pennsyl­vania German (popularly called “Pennsylvania Dutch”) frakturs, quilts and samplers made by the Commonwealth’s first settlers to examples of “tramp art” created by drifters and itinerant craftsmen during the Great Depression.

“A Sampler of American Folk Art from Pennsylvania Collections” also features woven and appliqued textiles, advertising figures, weather vanes, tavern signs, iron works, whirligigs, bed rugs, crocks and pottery, earthen­ware, decoys, sculpture, car­ousel figures and cigar store Indians.

About half of the items included in the exhibition were selected from Westmoreland Museum of Art’s extensive holdings of American and Pennsylvania folk and primi­tive arts and crafts. Additional items have been borrowed from other museums and institutions, as well as from private collections, throughout the Commonwealth.

Dr. Paul A. Chew, director of the Westmoreland Museum of Art, is serving as exhibition curator. He has written a cata­logue to accompany “A Sam­pler of American Folk Art from Pennsylvania Collections.”

A series of crafts demon­strations, lectures and special events related specifically to folk art of Pennsylvania will be conducted throughout the duration of the show. The exhibit will continue through Sunday, July 16 [1989].

Visiting hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Satur­day, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Thurs­day, 10 A.M. to 8 P.M.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M. Admission is free. Guided tours and facili­ties for special events are avail­able to groups by reservation.

Additional information may be obtained by writing: West­moreland Museum of Art, 221 North Main St., Greensburg, PA 15601; or by telephoning (412) 837-1500.


The Birds and the Beasts

Since the founding of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia’s leg­endary art school and mu­seum, in 1805, animals have played an important role in the development of both teachers’ and pupils’ artistic skills. One founder, Charles Willson Peale, encouraged students to use live animals for models to gain a greater understanding of the natural world and a thorough knowledge of their subjects (see “The Pennsylva­nia Academy of the Fine Arts: An Ideal and a Symbol” by Jeanette Toohey in the spring 1987 edition of Pennsylvania Heritage). This tradition still continues at the Academy.

Under the tutelage of late nineteenth century painter Thomas Eakins, undeniably the Academy’s most influen­tial, if not controversial, teacher, students were directed to work with live animals, as well as dissect cadavers. Henry Ossawa Tanner, a stu­dent of Eakins, found his sheep to be “the most stub­born, balky, run-away, be­fuddled animal to serve as a model.” Not all the animal models were mischievous, however. According to a New York Tribune article in 1904, Academy students found their water buffalo to be a good sport, holding the same pose for hours for the sake of art!

Twentieth century sculptors have also been attracted by animal subjects as well, more often exploring the abstract, decorative aspects of their form as in Gaston Lachaise’s elegant bronze, Peacocks, or Wharton Esherick’s Darling, a charming carved wooden deer.

To examine this unusual relationship between artist and animal, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will open on Saturday, June 17 [1989], an exhibit entitled “The Birds and the Beasts Will Teach Us.” Fifty paintings and works of sculp­ture will provide visitors of all ages the opportunity to explore the institution’s major works of animal subjects, particularly examples rarely seen by the public. The exhibi­tion will demonstrate both the aesthetic and educational aspects of animals in art, which continue to be compel­ling subjects for American artists and audiences alike.

Selected from the Acad­emy’s permanent collection, “The Birds and the Beasts Will Teach Us” will include Charles Willson Peale’s Noah and His Ark, William Rush’s painted wood Eagle, Edward Hicks’ allegorical The Peaceable King­dom and Winslow Homer’s dramatic oil, The Fox Hunt.

“The Birds and the Beasts Will Teach Us” will continue through September 24 [1989]. Com­plementary exhibition pro­grams include animal art workshops, lectures, plays and a “crazy creatures” summer art camp.

Located in center-city Phila­delphia, galleries of the Acad­emy are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; and Sunday, 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. There is an admis­sion fee, but free admission is offered on Saturday between 11 A.M. and 1 P.M.

For additional information, write: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Broad and Cherry Sts., Philadelphia, PA 19102; or telephone (215) 972-7642.


Dining in America

Formal rooms, furniture and equipment specifically for dining were unusual for early Americans. Rooms – entire structures – tended to be more versatile and furnishings more portable. Increased wealth, a more stable existence and the dining fashions of Europe contributed to the slow, albeit steady, acceptance of separate rooms for dining by the upper classes at the turn of the eight­eenth century. Such a formali­zation of room usage also generated specific furniture forms, such as the sideboard, the cellarette and the large banquet table.

With the industrialization of the nation and the advent of new and cheaper manufactur­ing processes, table articles and garniture became more accessible for many. The devel­opment of inexpensive electro­plating afforded those of modest means to display a fabulous array of silver – tea and coffee services, urns, trays and waiters, candelabra, crum­bers, castor sets and nut bowls – on a sideboard, with­out the expense of coin or sterling silver. Clever manufac­turers assured consumers of the need for silver melon spoons and lavish furniture to create a sense of opulence in the dining room. Etiquette books of the nineteenth cen­tury consistently advised homemakers on the ever-strict rules of entertaining-whether at breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper.

While the middle class could afford to furnish a spe­cific room with the accoutre­ments necessary for fashionable dining, it still by and large dung to the tradition of spaces for a variety of uses. As a result, many of the dining rooms of the period contained a sofa or settee so it could serve as an informal sitting room as well.

To examine in detail the customs and rituals of dining through the nineteenth cen­tury, Fort Hunter Mansion, Harrisburg, has opened an exhibit entitled “Dining in America.” The exhibit, which also relates to the various occupants of the historic house overlooking the Susquehanna River, offers visitors a rare opportunity to explore the dining room while it is under­going a major restoration. The exhibit showcases objects and utensils actually used by pre­vious owners of Fort Hunter Mansion, such as a circa 1820 sideboard laden with exquisite silver-plated serving pieces, a common Victorian period practice. “Dining in America” also includes a display of din­ing chairs, complemented by a vintage photograph showing their actual use at the mansion in 1898; early nineteenth cen­tury banquet tables and how they were positioned in a room when not in use; and a selec­tion of the mansion’s extensive collection of blue and white china.

Coinciding with the exhibit is a series of open hearth cook­ing demonstrations in Fort Hunter Mansion’s restored summer kitchen. The demon­strations will be offered on Saturdays, June V, July 15 and August 19, from 10 A.M. to 3:30 P.M.

“Dining in America” will continue through September 3 [1989].

For additional information, write: Fort Hunter Mansion and Park, 5300 North Front St., Harrisburg, PA 17110; or telephone (717) 599-5751. Admission is charged; group tours are available by reservation.


Wood, Water and Light

Works by Benjamin Mendlowitz, the acclaimed photographer best known for his Calendar of Wooden Boats, are currently exhibited for the first time in a gallery setting at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum. Entitled “Wood, Water and Light: The Classic Wooden Boat Photographs of Benjamin Mendlowitz.” the exhibition features sixty-seven of the photographer’s best images of wooden boats from throughout the world.

A special feature of “Wood, Water and Light” is a series of newly commissioned photo­graphs of small craft indige­nous to the waters of the Delaware Valley, including several boats constructed at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum’s boatbuilding shop, the Workshop on the Water.

By exhibiting Mendlowitz’s images, the museum is reiter­ating its commitment to tradi­tional boat building, in addition to continuing to present to the public the little­-known fact that the traditional building of wooden craft is still a thriving industry. While New England and the Pacific North­west have been recognized as the wooden boat building centers in the country, Ben­jamin Mendlowitz – through this selection of dramatic photographs – underscores the Delaware Valley’s considerable contribution to the design and construction of yachts and working boats, giving the region the attention it warrants.

“Wood, Water and Light: The Classic Wooden Boat Pho­tographs of Benjamin Mendlo­witz” is being presented by the Philadelphia Maritime Mu­seum in conjunction with a city-wide celebration of the sesquicentennial of the inven­tion of photography. The exhi­bition will be complemented with public programming and education classes focusing on the vitality of photography as both an important tool and as an artistic medium.

The exhibition will continue through October 9 [1989].

The Philadelphia Maritime Museum is southeastern Penn­sylvania’s primary resource for information pertaining specifi­cally to the maritime history of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Through perma­nent and changing exhibits, education classes, public pro­grams and special projects, the museum chronicles the story of four centuries of life along the waterways of the Delaware Valley.

Visiting hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. ; Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M. There is a charge for admission.

For more information, write: Philadelphia Maritime Museum, 321 Chestnut St. , Philadelphia, PA 19106; or telephone (215) 925-5439.


Meadowcroft Village

Meadowcroft Village, an eight hundred acre tract lo­cated three miles west of Avella in southwestern Penn­sylvania, is a living history complex and museum celebrat­ing America’s rural past. Oper­ated by the Meadowcroft Foundation, the attraction was created in 1969 and features restored nineteenth century buildings and structures in a picturesque setting.

The buildings open to the public include a general store, covered bridge, blacksmith shop, several log houses, car­riage barn, country store, chairmaking shop, and a visi­tors center. The structures­ – which have been relocated to this site – contain original items and furnishings appropri­ate to the period. The covered bridge, originally erected over the Toms River in Pine Bank, was saved from demolition. The span typifies King Post construction, with hand-hewn main support timbers and irons made by a local black­smith. It was the first acquisi­tion for the complex.

The Miller Log House, the second structure relocated to Meadowcroft Village, has been restored to its early nineteenth century appearance and de­picts the age of wood through an extensive collection of handmade wooden furniture, shovels, rakes, tools and kitchen utensils. The Miller School, which was used from 1835 to 1921, has been pains­takingly restored, as has the Hindman Blacksmith Shop, named for a village smithy, Thomas Hindman, who was active in Cross Creek from 1865 to 1900. The blacksmith shop features many of Hind­man’s original tools and de­vices, including hoof nippers and calk wrenches. Other buildings were acquired from New York and West Virginia to enhance the complex.

In the early 1970s, a team of University of Pittsburgh ar­chaeology students discovered stone tools, fragments, shells and animal and human bones at an area now officially desig­nated as the Meadowcroft Rock Shelter. The specimens indicate that the site had been occupied by man twenty thou­sand years ago.

One of the more unusual programs offered by Meadowcroft Village is the one room schoolhouse educational project, which involves stu­dents in a day-long history lesson. Participants actually follow a typical school stu­dent’s day of the nineteenth century, using authentic meth­ods and books, such as vintage McGuffey’s Readers.

Through October Meadowcroft Village offers daily tours, Wednesday to Saturday, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; and Sunday, 1 to 6 P.M. Special events this season include Concert on the Green, Sunday, June 25 [1989]; Sum­merfest, Sunday, July 23 [1989]; and a program devoted entirely to folk songs of rural Pennsylva­nia on Sunday, September 10 [1989]. There is an admission charge.

To obtain additional infor­mation and travel directions, write: Meadowcroft Village, Avella, PA 15312; or telephone (412) 587-3412.


Important Acquisition

The Heritage Center of Lancaster County has acquired an extremely important painted fire engine panel as a result of its recent exhibition, “Heritage of Flames: A Tribute to Lancaster County Fire Fighters” (see “Currents,” Pennsylvania Heritage, winter 1989). The engine panel, a gift to the Heritage Center, depicts the Lancaster County Court­house as it looked immediately following completion of its construction in the early 1850s. The decorative panel was painted for the American Fire Company of Lancaster by Baltimore, Maryland, artist T. R. Jeffreys when the compa­ny’s fire engine was refur­bished by the firm of Messrs. John Rodgers and Sons of Baltimore in 1855.

The depiction of the court­house is painted on a zinc or tin panel mounted on a carved wooden framework. Inscribed with the American Fire Com­pany’s motto, Veni, Vidi, Vici (“I came, I saw, I conquered”), the painting is dated 1855 and signed by Jeffreys. The panel is an especially significant addition to the Heritage Cen­ter’s collection, combining firematic history with an early, full color Lancaster streets­cape, and underscoring the developing mercantile relation­ship between the cities of Lancaster and Baltimore dur­ing the nineteenth century.

Painted fire engine panels were employed during the nineteenth century by volun­teer fire fighters as decorations for engines on parade. The heavy panels were designed to slide easily into grooves lo­cated on the sides of the early engines’ condenser case, and could be removed by the fire­men for protection from the ravages of active duty. Artists of considerable standing, in­cluding Jeffreys, were often commissioned to paint these highly ornamental and decora­tive panels, which typically depicted elements of the fire company’s namesake, motto or emblem, or which em­bodied patriotic or mythologi­cal vignettes.

The Lancaster County Courthouse panel was origi­nally paired on the American Fire Company’s engine with a panel, also by Jeffreys, por­traying a historical scene of the Battle of Bunker Hill. The Bunker Hill panel, in rough condition, was acquired with its mate and will be available for study purposes. Both en­gine panels were part of a private Lancaster collection for nearly a century. They were a gift to the Heritage Center by George W. Scott, a trustee emeritus of the organization.

For more information about the center’s collection of fire­matic memorabilia, write: Heritage Center of Lancaster County, P. 0. Box 997, Lancaster, PA 17603; or telephone (717) 299-6440.


Patch Town Days

Eckley, a restored “patch town” or mining community, is a unique museum complex located in the heart of the anthracite region of northeast­ern Pennsylvania. Forty dwell­ings, including examples of workers’ and owners’ houses, two hundred outbuildings, a reconstructed late nineteenth century coal breaker, two churches, mule barn, company store and visitors center chron­icle the life of the hard coal miner and his family, empha­sizing the domestic, religious and social history. The village, originally built near the col­liery which processed the coal, was established by the opera­tors as a planned community; a common feature of large industrial enterprises a cen­tury ago. By owning the entire village, the company exerted great control over the miners and their families, mostly immigrants who had hoped to find economic opportunities and religious or political free­dom in Pennsylvania.

“Patch Town Days,” recall­ing the many different and distinctive ethnic traditions brought to the anthracite re­gion by various ethnic groups, will be held during the week­end of June 17-18 at Eckley Miners’ Village. Forty ethnic groups and craftsmen will demonstrate nineteenth cen­tury crafts, and entertainment will be offered throughout the two-day event. A special chil­dren’s area will provide hands­-on activities and nineteenth century crafts and games for younger visitors. Costumed tour guides will interpret three of Eckley’s historic structures.

Administered by the Penn­sylvania Historical and Mu­seum Commission, Eckley Miners’ Village is located eight miles east of Hazleton. For additional information, write: Eckley Miners’ Village, Box 236, R.R. 2, Weatherly, PA 18255; or telephone (717) 636-2070.