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.

Photography of Design

Margaret Bourke­-White (1904-1971) is best remembered as the first staff photographer of Fortune magazine, the first female war correspondent, and the woman whose photographs made the covers of Life magazine famous. Before she began traveling throughout the world to record history in the making, Bourke-White was creating evocative abstract photographs of American industry and archi­tecture.

It was in a photography class as a freshman at Columbia University that Bourke-White was first exposed to the work of Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922) and the abstract style that quickly came to characterize her own work. Upon moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1927, she began creating abstract images of the city’s industrial architecture, an unusual subject for a fe­male photographer at that time. The world of machines and technology was familiar to Bourke-White, whose father was an engineer and inventor. The monumental forms, geometric shapes, and cold steel of industrial plants and their machinery lent themselves perfectly to the style Bourke-White has already developed in her work.

The resulting sparse, yet powerful, compositions of Ameri­can industry rivaled the similarly-themed paintings by Precisionist artists (and Pennsylvania natives) Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) and Charles Demuth (1883-1935), and quickly pro­pelled Bourke-White’s work to the forefront of American abstractionism. It was on the basis of these early photographs­ – icons of American strength and steadfastness in uncertain times – that publisher Henry R. Luce (1898-1967) offered her a job shooting images for the pages of Fortune. When Luce launched Life in 1936, Bourke-White’s photograph of the Fort Peck Dam in Montana graced the cover of the first issue.

Just opened at the Frick Art Museum, located on the grounds of the Frick Art and Historical Center in Pittsburgh,”Margaret Bourke­-White: The Photography of Design, 1927-1936,” is the first major exhibition devoted to the photogra­pher’s critical early years. Featuring one hundred and fifty im­ages, the exhibition is the first to fully explore Bourke-White’s earliest work, much of which has not been seen by the general public since the 1930s. Beginning with her pictorialist view of Cleveland’s Terminal Tower in 1927 and culminating with her well-known 1936 cover and lead story of the inaugural issue of Life, “The Photography of Design” explores Bourke-White’s early career during which she developed her aesthetic vision and forged new territory in the field of photojournalism.

“Margaret Bourke-White: The Photography of Design, 1927-1936,” continues through Sunday, September 4. The ex­hibit, organized by the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., is accompanied by a publication sharing the same title, written by Stephen Bennett Phillips.

For more information, write: Frick Art Muse um, Frick Art and Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Pittsburgh, PA 15208- 2923; telephone (412) 371-0600; or visit on the Web. The Frick Art and Historical Center, located in the city’s Point Breeze section, offers free admission to the museum, in addition to free parking.


Wyeth Homestead Reopens for Season

The restored home and studio of famed American illustra­tor Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945) have recently reopened for seasonal public tours.

In 1911, with proceeds from his illustrations for Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, N.C. Wyeth purchased eighteen acres on Rocky Hill in the village of Chadds Ford. Possessing “the most glorious site in this township,” he built his home and stu­dio overlooking the valley. He set down roots, which for nine decades have nourished a family – many say dynasty – of ex­traordinarily talented and highly creative members.

Born in Needham, Massachusetts, Wyeth grew up in a farmhouse nestled on the banks of the Charles River, which his ancestors had built in 1730. Growing up on the farmstead he developed a deep love of nature. His mother, Hattie (Zimgiebel) Wyeth, the daughter of Swiss immigrants, encour­aged his artistic inclinations in the face of opposition from his father, Andrew Newell Wyeth II, who encouraged a more practical use of his son’s talent. N.C. Wyeth attended Mechanic Arts High School in Boston through May 1889, concentrating on drafting. With his mother’s support, he transferred to the Massa­chusetts Normal Art School, where instructor Richard Andrews recognized his inclination toward illustration and encouraged him in that direction. He studied with Charles W. Reed and Eric Pape and then painted with George L. Noyes in Annisquam, Massachusetts, during the summer of 1901.

On the advice of two friends, artists Clifford Ashley and Henry Peck, the twenty­-year-old Wyeth moved to Wilmington, Delaware, in 1902 to join the Howard Pyle School of Art. One of the country’s renowned illustrators, Pyle left a teaching position at Philadel­phia’s Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and industry to open his own school of illustration in Wilmington. Pyle was an in­spired teacher, Wyeth an attentive pupil. The master emphasized the use of dramatic effects in painting and the im­portance of sound, personal knowledge of one’s subject, lessons Wyeth quickly assimilated and employed throughout his career. The astute young artist embraced Pyle’s instruction, writing to his mother just after his arrival, “the composition lecture … opened my eyes more than any talk I ever heard.” In less than five months, the Saturday Evening Post accepted a cover illustration by N.C. Wyeth. His pictures soon began ap­pearing in many of the most popular magazines of the day, including Century, Harper’s Monthly, Ladies Home Journal, Mc­Clure’s, Outing, and Scribner’s.

In 1906, Wyeth married Carolyn Brenneman Bockius of Wilmington, where the couple resided briefly before moving ten miles north to Chadds Ford. Wyeth knew and loved the area. Chadds Ford had been the site of Pyle’s summer school, and the rolling hills and sycamore. trees of the Brandywine Valley had already exerted a profound influence on the artist, subduing his enthusiasm for the rough and tumble American West, which he had visited several times between 1904 and 1906. For Wyeth, Chadds Ford was his new home. “I am totally satisfied that this is the little corner of the world wherein I shall work out my destiny,” he wrote his parents.

The Brandywine River Museum now owns the house and studio, as well as thousands of items that were part of the life of the Wyeth family and props that were part of the engrossing career of N. C. Wyeth. Tours of the N.C. Wyeth House and Stuclio, designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior, offer visitors an opportunity to experience the environment where Wyeth created many of his memorable works of art and the house where he and his wife raised their five extraordinarily gifted children, Andrew, Ann, Carolyn, Henriette, and Nathaniel.

Tours, which last approxi­mately one hour, depart the museum by shuttle from Wednesday through Sunday at timed intervals. Tours will be conducted through Sunday, November 20. There is an ad­mission charge.

For additional information regarding tour hours and reservations, write: Brandy­wine River Museum, Post Office Box 1, Chadds Ford, PA 19317; telephone (610) 388-8326 or 388-2700; or visit on the Web.


For the Birds

In collaboration with the Baird Or­nithological Club, of Reading, Berks County, the Reading Public Museum is presenting a retrospective of the legacy of three area birding individu­als, Levi Mengel, Earl Lincoln Poole, and Maurice Broun. “Influenced by Birds: Berks County Birding Giants and Their Legacies,” funded in part by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, celebrates the invaluable contributions to the understanding of Berks County birds by these individuals.

Levi W. Mengel (1868-1941), founder of the Reading Public Museum, was the first individual to systematically document bird life in Berks County. He first began to collect birds in high school, keeping records of birds’ eggs and nests. Scientists still use the information collected by Mengel, and his collection formed the core of the museum’s or­nithological holdings.

Earl Lincoln Poole (1891-1972), a founder of the Baird Or­nithological Club, followed Mengel as director of the Reading Public Museum. A talented ornithologist, artist, and author, he devoted considerable time in the field recording birds in sketches, drawings, and paintings. His illustrations have ap­peared in forty books, including his own 1947 work, A Half Century of Bird Life in Berks County. Poole illustrated natural history of Cape May, New Jersey, as well as from Arctic Canada to South America.

Maurice Broun (1906-1979), a well-noted naturalist, served as the first director of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary (see “Soaring Above ‘This School in the Clouds”‘ by Nancy J.Keeler, Summer 2004). Broun and his wife Irma Penniman Broun (1908-1997) were pivotal in the development of the sanc­tuary, located in northern Berks County. With the sanctuary’s founder Rosalie Barrow Edge (1887-1962), the Brouns fought for the safety of hawks on the mountain and not infrequently placed themselves in front of armed hunters. Upon retiring in 1966, Broun served as curator for the Hawk Mountain Sanctu­ary. He wrote Hawks Aloft: The Story of Hawk Mountain, first published in 1949, which recounts the sanctuary’s tumultuous early years.

“Influenced by Birds: Berks County Birding Giants and Their Legacies” explores the contributions of these twentieth-century pioneers and examines birding in the region that they stimu­lated. A number of unusual objects and artifacts are on exhibition, including a never-before-seen collection of Mengel specimens; paintings, sketches, and etchings by Poole; and memorabilia owned and used by Broun. The exhibit runs through Sunday, August 28.

The Baird Ornithological Club, founded by Harold Morris and Poole, is the center for Berks County’s amateur bird watchers. The organization was named for Reacting native Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887), the second Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., who served from 1878 to 1887. (The precocious Baird entered Dickinson College, Carlisle, in 1836 at the age of thirteen and received his bachelor’s degree in 1840.) The Baird Ornitho­logical Club compiles and preserves bird life information, which has been published in several books, among them Poole’s A Half Century of Bird Life in Berks County. On the fiftieth anniversary of the book’s debut, in 1997, the Reading Public Museum published a revised version.

The museum is conducting several special events and programs in conjunction with the exhibition.

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