Currents

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.

Eckley Miners’ Village

Two major summer pro­grams will be held at Eckley Miners’ Village in Luzerne County, a living history mu­seum complex dedicated to the lives and contributions of the generations of immigrants who toiled assiduously at the height of the anthracite boom in northeastern Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, June 27 [1987], the village will present a day-long program, beginning at noon, entitled “Patch Town Days.” Memories of Eckley’s colorful heritage will be rekindled by groups representing the vari­ous cultures and traditions that were an integral part of this nineteenth century coal patch town. Porches along the village’s rustic Main Street will be decorated according to English, German, Irish, Polish, Slovak and Ukrainian cus­toms. Craftsmen will demon­strate nineteenth century and turn-of-the-century crafts, including weaving, spinning, stenciling and tin punching. Visitors may participate in a quilting bee and experiment with the long-lost art of feather stripping. Several nineteenth century structures will offer interpretation with “hands on” activities. Costumed guides will help reenact the village’s bustling community life dur­ing the peak years of the an­thracite industry.

On Sunday, July 19 [1987], a mule barn raising – complete with period entertainment and crafts – will be held at the village. The building, a reconstruction of the original mule barn erected at Eckley in 1893, will be built by the Pennsylva­nia Conservation Corps (PCC), a youth work program spon­sored by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (DER).

Eckley Miners’ Village, recalling the unique heritage of the anthracite region, recalls the everyday life of the coal miner and his family. In addi­tion to the museum, more than fifty structures, including two churches, capture the daily life of immigrant workers a century ago. Additional information regarding travel­ing directions and visiting hours is available by writing: Eckley Miners’ Village, Box 236, R.R. 2, Weatherly, PA 18255; or by telephoning (717) 636-2070 or 636-2071. There is an admission charge.

 

Help for the Historic House Museum

More than two hundred historic house museums clus­tered in the Delaware Valley are eligible for assistance from the National Trust for Historic Preservation through a grant from the William Penn Foun­dation. Available as a free public service, the program is open to historic properties that can identify their problems and needs and are committed to establishing priorities and long range goals. The structures must be located in the counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadel­phia, Pennsylvania, and Cam­den in New Jersey.

Realizing that many historic house museums rely on more than one support group, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is accepting applications from any (or all) of these groups: the nonprofit organizations that raise fund­ing and provide volunteers for the facility; the administrative staff which operates the prop­erty; and the actual owner of the property, which may be a state agency, a local govern­ment, an educational institu­tion or a nonprofit association. Based on the needs of each property, teams of specialists will recommend action in many areas, including admin­istrative reorganization, legal audits, board or trustee devel­opment, educational and pub­lic outreach programs, restoration, archaeology, fur­nishing plans, endowments, museum shops, maintenance schedules, conservation stud­ies, new publications, safety and security, interpretation and alternative uses. The pro­gram is the first of its kind to offer highly specialized con­sultant teams to study a num­ber of problems simultane­ously and set priorities. The National Trust and the William Penn Foundation established the program last year by providing professional guidance to Hope Lodge, Fort Washington, and the Dickinson-Albertson Farm­stead, Plymouth Meeting, both in Montgomery County; the John Bartram House and Garden, Glen Foerd and the Powel House, all in Philadel­phia County; and the Walt Whitman House in Camden County, New Jersey.

During 1987 and 1988, twelve historic house muse­ums will be selected as participants in the innovative assistance program. Informa­tion regarding the program may be obtained by writing: Historic House Museum As­sistance Program, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Cliveden, 6401 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19144; or by telephoning (215) 438-2886.

 

Rare Painting Found

The recently rediscovered painting Niagara Falls by noted Moravian artist Gustavus Grunewald (1805-1878) has been acquired by the Allen­town Art Museum of the Le­high Valley. Unknown to American art historians and Moravian history scholars, the painting was purchased by the museum at an auction con­ducted by Christie’s in New York. According to exhibition records at the National Acad­emy of Design in New York, Grunewald showed three paintings of Niagara Falls at the Academy in 1841. Experts believe that this depiction may have been one of the listed works.

Niagara Falls is the largest and earliest views of the leg­endary natural attraction painted by Grunewald. Signed and dated 1834, the piece is the artist’s most ambitious early painting in this country; it measures thirty-four and one-half by fifty-four inches.

Grunewald was born in Germany, where he studied under the premier romantic painter of the period, Caspar­David Friedrich (1774-1840). He emigrated to the United States in 1831, settling with the Moravian community at Beth­lehem. He served as the draw­ing master at the Moravian Seminary from 1836 until 1838, when he returned to Germany. Virtually all of his productive years as an artist were spent in the United States. He regularly exhibited at the National Acad­emy of Design and the Penn­sylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia. (For more information on Grune­wald and the artists of Bethle­hem, see the color-illustrated article entitled “Painting the Town: Bethlehem and its Art­ists” in the winter 1985 edition of this magazine.)

The Allentown Art Mu­seum is currently compiling an inventory of Grunewald’s works. To date, fifty pieces­ – many of them in local public and private collections – have been identified.

The Allentown Art Mu­seum of the Lehigh Valley is located at Fifth and Court streets in center-city Allen­town. Visiting hours are Tues­day through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M. Admission is free but donations are welcome. Addi­tional information regarding changing exhibits and group tours is available by writing: Allentown Art Museum, P.O. Box 117, Allentown, PA 18105; or by telephoning (215) 432-4333.

 

The Age of Intelligent Machines

“Greetings, humans. You are witnessing the beginning of a great new era – the age of intelligent machines,” offers Jorel, a robot that heads a group of inanimate objects featured in an exhibit entitled “Robots and Beyond: The Age of Intelligent Machines” open­ing at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, on June 27 [1987]. Exploring the world of the future, the exhibit continues through August 30 [1987] and offers visitors an in-depth look at four of the fastest growing and most widely used applications of artificial intelligence known today. “Robots and Beyond” features more than three dozen displays on view through September 6 [1987].

Robotic sensory systems­ – machines that can see, feel, hear and touch – are explored in one area of the exhibit that allows visitors to examine some of the problems and the progress which has been made in creating a machine designed to mimic human senses. How robots are programmed to “see” is illustrated with dis­plays that interpret optical illusions and three dimen­sional objects and robots that “read” from a printed page. One clever robot attempts to recognize items visitors may have in their pockets. Other machines “speak” through the electronic wonder of DECtalk. Visitors may also create a robot voice or engage a machine in a game. By touching a patch of “robotic skin,” made of a newly developed piezo-electric film, a visitor can learn the machine’s reaction to the hu­man touch.

“Robots and Beyond” illus­trates the growing importance of the systems in the work­place. A segment of the exhibit shows what computers and robots contribute when they perform designated tasks, including examples of a robot arm that weighs, mixes and manipulates chemicals. The question of whether or not future machines will only mimic human intelligence or become a new form of artificial intelligence is examined with specialized systems. Machines that can actually rationalize, learn from experience and give medical diagnosis provide insights into the rapidly devel­oping field of mechanical thinking.

The exhibit will be comple­mented by several familiar robots which have been made popular in movies and films. Explaining the role of robots in science fiction and the future, “Number Five,” a prop from the film entitled Short Circuit, will be shown together with a segment of the movie. Work­ing robot toys, antique robots and the “Hero 2000,” the latest educational robot available today, demonstrate the evolu­tion of the systems.

For additional information regarding “Robots and Be­yond: The Age of Intelligent Machines,” write: Franklin Institute, Twentieth and the Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103; or telephone (215) 448-1200. There is an admission charge.

 

Pennsylvania German Center

A new research and educa­tional facility for the study of the Commonwealth’s large German population has been formally opened at the Millers­ville University of Pennsylva­nia, Millersville, Lancaster County. The Center for Penn­sylvania German Studies has been established as a clearing­house and information ex­change for both historical and current data on the Pennsylva­nia German population of southeastern Pennsylvania.

One of the first ongoing programs has been to identify congregations in the south­eastern counties which still conduct worship services in German dialects. The center is also in the process of locating theatrical groups, choruses and choirs – often popularly labeled “Pennsylvania Dutch” – whose renditions and programs continue to be of­fered in the German dialects. Results of this research will be incorporated in a musical recording which will be issued by the new center.

The Center for Pennsylva­nia German Studies will pub­lish a newsletter and sponsor lectures and seminars on the history, culture and art of the Pennsylvania Germans in southeastern Pennsylvania. The first volume of the Thomas R. Brendle Collection of Pennsylvania German Folk­lore will also be published in the near future.

Additional information regarding the programs and activities of the center is availa­ble by writing: C. Richard Beam, Director, Center for Pennsylvania German Studies, Millersville University of Penn­sylvania, Millersville, PA 17551; or by telephoning (717) 872-3011.

 

The Athens of the Western World

Philadelphia craftsmen created the most sophisticated examples of furnishings and architecture produced in the American colonies between 1740 and 1780. Their products formed an essential part of the economy of the region, but they were interrupted by the American Revolution. Al­though this hiatus lasted from 1775 to 1781, there was suffic­ient momentum for a grand resurgence during the last quarter of the eighteenth cen­tury. In 1811, architect Ben­jamin Latrobe expressed his impassioned hope that the new republic should embrace the fine arts, for then “indeed the days of Greece may be revived in the woods of Amer­ica, and Philadelphia become the Athens of the Western World.”

Opening Sunday, July 5 [1987], at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a major exhibition entitled “The Athens of the Western World: Federal Philadelphia, 1785-1825,” will explore the prodigious vitality of the arts as they developed in and about Philadelphia during a period when it might appear that politics, government and the framing of the United States Constitution dominated the creative spirit of the city. The exhibition will showcase two hundred superb examples of furniture, paintings, cos­tumes, copper, ironwork and silver made in Philadelphia during the forty year period.

During the opening years of the nineteenth century, Phila­delphia attracted artists and craftsmen from throughout the new nation, as well as from Europe and the West Indies. These cabinetmakers and silversmiths found a ready market for household furnish­ings made in the “new style,” which was based on contem­porary European interpreta­tions of Greek and Roman models. Certain decorative motifs were used on a wide range of objects, such as the star pattern, then popular in France, which adorned a wom­an’s embroidered dress and a silver tea service.

Beginning with William Rush’s Nymph and Bittern, which once stood before La­trobe’s pump house at Center Square, the installation of “The Athens of the Western World” will recall the ambience of elegance described by writ­ers of the period. Landscapes, house portraits and Thomas Birch engravings of the “new style” – as it was called in 1791 – will offer the visitor glimpses of notable city archi­tecture. Elements from an elegant period room of a fed­eral style house on South Third Street (and never before publicly displayed), as well as portraits of George Washing­ton, Benjamin Franlklin and other men and women who shaped the young republic’s government and artistic taste, complete the picture of life in a thriving cosmopolitan city at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Pieces in the exhibition have been selected from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s extensive holdings of Ameri­can fine and decorative arts. A number of the objects are central to any treatise on deco­rative arts. The silver um by Richard Humphreys, for exam­ple, has survived several chal­lenges as the first example in America of the neo-classical style which was made popular in London by Robert and John Adam about 1765. Completed in 1774, the Humphreys urn heralded the fashion which eventually took the United States by storm during the last quarter of the eighteenth cen­tury. The close of the Federal period will be represented by the elaborate iron balcony with gilt wheat and ship designs that Stephen Girard had in­stalled on his Front Street warehouse circa 1796.

“The Athens of the Western World: Federal Philadelphia, 1785-1825,” is the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s salute to the bicentennial of the Constitu­tion. While the documentary exhibitions staged by other institutions will honor the extraordinary individuals who drafted the document and trace its complex evolution, this exhibit will celebrate the craftsmen and, through them, the influence of other nations – particularly France­ – on the artistic life of Philadel­phia. The exhibition continues through September 20 [1987].

For additional information regarding “The Athens of the Western World” and related special events and activities, write: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Parkway at Twenty-Sixth St., Philadelphia, PA 19101; or telephone (215) 763-8100.

 

Lancaster County Heritage Exhibits

Continuing through No­vember 21 [1987], two disparate ex­hibits mounted by the Heritage Center of Lancaster County illustrate important components of the southeast­ern county’s rich – and varied – history and culture.

“Hattie Brunner’s World” focuses on the colorful “mem­ory paintings” created between 1957 and 1978 by the Reinholds, Lancaster County, artist Hattie Klapp Brunner (1889-1982). Long recognized as an authority on, and lead­ing dealer in, eighteenth and nineteenth century Pennsylva­nia German decorative arts, Brunner was inspired at the age of sixty-seven by a chance encounter with her grandson’s watercolors to begin painting detailed, whimsical scenes which record her lifetime of experiences in rural Lancaster County. Encouraged by the popularity of her paintings with collectors and dealers of American antiques and folk art, the artist produced more than five hundred watercolor on paper scenes during a twenty-one year period. Only failing health and diminishing eyesight forced Brunner to abandon her artwork.

Best known for her paint­ings depicting winter land­scapes and country auction scenes, Hattie Klapp Brunner also painted a number of more unusual subjects, such as commissioned renderings of clients’ residences, depictions of the Swamp Reformed Church in Reinholds (for which she had been both or­ganist and vocalist) and at least one interior scene depict­ing a room of antique furnish­ings flanking a fireplace – over which is hung a Brunner painting!

“Hattie Brunner’s World” examines the development of her artistic style through the chronological comparison of more than seventy-five works spanning the two decades of artistic production. The exhibit also explores the artist’s contextual relationship with American nonacademic profes­sional painting traditions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The second current show, “Push, Look and Listen: Hub­ley Toys,” showcases outstand­ing toys manufactured by the Hubley Manufacturing Com­pany, founded in the city of Lancaster in 1894. On view are one hundred and twenty-five objects representing the com­pany’s production of cast iron toys from the firm’s inception until World War II. Changes in methods of design and pro­duction of Hubley’s cast-iron toys are traced in the exhibit to the effects of world events, such as the two World Wars, and of American economic and business climates, includ­ing the Great Depression.

“Push, Look and Listen” features a variety of colorful and detailed examples of toys produced by the Hubley Man­ufacturing Company, includ­ing trains and planes, fire engines, police vehicles, carts and carriages, motorcycles, boats, buses and taxis, as well as related transportation toys which chronicle – in miniature – the history of over­land transportation in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. The exhibit also includes examples of the company’s more unu­sual and exotic toys: an ele­vated clockwork train, horse-drawn Hubley Royal Circus wagons and the Hubley Packard motorcar.

Many of the pieces in­cluded in “Push, Look and Listen” have been selected from private collections.

The Heritage Center of Lancaster County, located on historic Penn Square in Lan­caster, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. There is no admission charge. For more information, write: Heritage Center of Lan­caster County, Penn Square, Box 997, Lancaster, PA 17603; or telephone (717) 299-6440.

 

Morris Arboretum

This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Morris Arboretum in Philadel­phia, administered by the University of Pennsylvania. The anniversary also com­memorates the Arboretum’s evolution from a private estate to a leading research and edu­cational institution dedicated to the preservation of endan­gered plant species through­out the world.

The centennial celebration highlights the facility’s role as one of the great landscape gardens of the United States. The Morris Arboretum has had – and continues to exert­ – an energizing impact on sci­ence, art and the enrichment of culture through its priceless collection of trees and rare plants.

The Arboretum was founded by John and Lydia Morris, brother and sister, who traveled around the world a century ago to bring rare plant specimens and unusual art­works to their estate. The facility has evolved during the last one hundred years into a major scientific research center whose grounds consist of one hundred and seventy-five acres of formal gardens, natu­ral woodlands, meadows, streams and ponds, orna­mented with classical and romantic architecture, as well as contemporary sculpture.

Originally called Compton, the Arboretum is one of the foremost university-based public gardens in the world, and it is recognized for its elegance and charm as a great Victorian era landscape gar­den. It has been termed “a living work of art” and “a classroom and laboratory.”

To celebrate the centennial of the Morris Arboretum, several exhibits and activities will be open to the public throughout the summer and fall. “Window on the Tropics: The John Morris Fernery,” an exhibit on the grounds through November 15 [1987], depicts the history and ongoing resto­ration of the Victorian period fernery. Also on view through November 15 [1987], “Victorian Vi­sions: The Mercury Loggia in the English Park,” an outdoor exhibit at the Greco-Roman style loggia, recalls Victorian era garden landscaping. From June 12 [1987] through December 31 [1987], an exhibit entitled “Richness Lost, Richness Regained: From Private Estate to University Arboretum” in the George D. Widener Education Center will trace the history of the sprawl­ing complex.

The Morris Arboretum is located on Hillcrest Avenue, between Stenton and German­town avenues, in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Admission is charged. For additional information regard­ing visiting hours and group tours, write: News Bureau, University of Pennsylvania, 410 Logan Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6378; or telephone (215) 898-8721.

 

Jewish Journalism in America

“A People in Print: Jewish Journalism in America,” a major exhibition organized by the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, will open to the public on Monday, June 15 [1987], in celebration of the centennial anniversary of the Jewish Expo­nent. The Jewish Exponent is a weekly newspaper published in Philadelphia.

Highlighting the people and the periodicals that have reported the activities and advocated the interests of the Jewish community in the United States, the exhibition is the first installation in the museum’s renovated gallery. “A People in Print,” tracing Jewish participation in journal­istic endeavors from the colo­nial era to the present, will examine not only the Anglo­Jewish press, but also Jewish language newspapers and Jewish contributions to main­stream journalism. The show was developed by museum curator Kenneth Libo, author of several highly acclaimed popular histories of Jewish life in America and former English language section editor of the Jewish Daily Forward.

“A People in Print: Jewish Journalism in America” will continue through December 31 [1987].

The National Museum of American Jewish History is located on Independence Mall East. Visiting hours are Mon­day through Thursday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Sunday, Noon to 5 P.M. During the summer months, the museum will be open Friday, 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. There is an admission charge.

For additional information, write: National Museum of American Jewish History, 55 North Fifth St., Philadelphia, PA 19106; or telephone (215) 923-3811.

 

A More Perfect Union

With documents and objects drawn from its sizable collection, the Historical Soci­ety of Pennsylvania, Philadel­phia, will observe the bicentennial of the United States Constitution by opening an exhibit, “A More Perfect Union: The American People and Their Constitution,” Thursday, June 18 [1987]. The exhibit, continuing through December 14 [1987], will explore the ways in which two centuries of Americans have understood and interpreted, celebrated and embraced the landmark document.

“A More Perfect Union” features eighty original docu­ments, prints, paintings and artifacts from the society’s unparalleled constitutional collection, including the first draft of the Constitution penned by James Madison; the only known copy ot the first printed draft; the first printing of the document for the public; colonial charters; broadsides and newspapers; political cartoons and memorabilia tracing the story of the Consti­tution and its evolution.

The exhibit is divided into three parts, each exploring how Americans dealt with the Constitution. It will illustrate varying popular perceptions of constitutional issues during two centuries; major civic constitutional celebrations in the American experience; and how the organizing principles of the Constitution have be­come a model for hundreds, if not thousands, of other consti­tutions in private and national affairs. The public will also be invited to contribute “constitu­tions” from their own organi­zations and associations for display in a rotating exhibit.

In conjunction with its bicentennial of the U.S. Con­stitution observances, the Historical Society of Pennsyl­vania, in conjunction with American Telephone and Tele­graph, is sponsoring a nation­wide, twenty-four hour toll-free series of recorded telephone messages on constitutional history. “History Hotline” includes information on upcoming bicentennial events throughout the country. In operation through Novem­ber, the series of messages changes weekly. The toll-free telephone number for “History Hotline” is: 1 (800)-3-B-PROUD.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania safeguards nearly fifteen million manu­scripts, rare books, artworks and artifacts documenting more than three centuries of American and Pennsylvania history. In addition to main­taining research facilities and producing publications, the society continues to introduce provocative exhibitions and educational programs on a wide range of subjects for the general public. The society has loaned more than twenty percent of the constitutional materials now on view in the United States Constitutional Convention Bicentennial Exhi­bition, entitled “Miracle at Philadelphia” at the Second Bank of the United States, Independence National His­torical Park, Philadelphia. “Miracle at Philadelphia” is on display through December 31 [1987].

The historical society is open Tuesday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Saturday, 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. Admission to the exhibit galleries is free.

To obtain additional informa­tion, write: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust St., Philadelphia 19107; or telephone (215) 732-6200.