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.

Officers and Gentlemen

Brevet Major General John Frederick Hartranft and General Winfield Scott Hancock, of Montgomery County, and Brevet Brigadier-General Galusha Pennypacker and Private Samuel W. Pennypacker, of Chester County, were among the many local servicemen and heroes who served during the Civil War. Galusha Pennypacker (1842-1916), hero of Fort Fisher, off Cape Fear, North Carolina, was the youngest general in the Union forces during the war. His cousin, Samuel W.Pennypacker, who fought as a private in several of the early skirmishes near Gettysburg, later wrote extensively about the war, became interested in battlefield preservation, and was elected governor in 1902. More than one hundred members of the Pennypacker family served in a variety of capacities and ranks during the Civil War.

John Frederick Hartranft (1830-1889), who served two terms as governor of Pennsylvania (see “Curator’s Choice” in the Winter 1996 edition), led the 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry which fought at Antietam, the Wilderness Campaign, and Knoxville. His bravery at Fort Stedman, east of Petersburg, Virginia, won him great acclaim. Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886), a hero at the Battle of Gettysburg, was one of the finest corps commanders of the Army of the Potomac. His monument in the Montgomery Cemetery in Norristown is being restored under the auspices of the W.S. Hancock Society.

“A Private Amongst the Generals: Pennypacker, Hancock, and Hartranft,” an exhibition installed by Pennypacker Mills, Schwenksville, showcases artifacts and objects interpreting the lives and distinguished military careers of these southeastern Pennsylvanians. Civil War pieces on view include swords which once belonged to Galusha Pennypacker and Winfield Scott Hancock; John Frederick Hartranft’s epaulets; a regimental color of the Madison Scouts, predecessor to the 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, of which Hartranft was also commander; Union military drums; and an emergency hand litter used to transport the wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. Many of the objects featured in the exhibition have not been publicly exhibited before.

“A Private Amongst the Generals: Pennypacker, Hancock, and Hartranft” continues through Monday, June 1, 1998.

The property now known as Penny­packer Mills was purchased in 1900 by Samuel W. Pennypacker for his family as a country retreat. He hired Philadelphia architect Arthur Brockie to transform the existing handsome, but rather ordinary, eighteenth-century farmhouse into a commodious and comfortable residence. Pennypacker and Brockie’s collaboration resulted in an outstanding example of Colonial Revival-style architecture. The stately mansion is surrounded by fifteen acres of English natural-style landscaping designed by Thomas Meehan and Sons in 1902. Much of the property’s one hundred and twenty-five acres is still being farmed, affording visitors an experience similar to that enjoyed by the Pennypackers at the opening of this century.

Visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. There is no charge for admission, but donations are welcome.

For more information, write: Pennypacker Mills, 5 Haldeman Rd., Schwenksville, PA 19473-1844; or tele­phone (610) 287-9349.

 

Working on the Railroad (Museum)

The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum will host the grand opening of its new museum building on Saturday, April 25, 1998.

The new museum – located in the Pennsylvania Railroad’s former Master Mechanics Building – will house three floors of exhibits and installations, many of which will provide visitors with op­portunities for interaction. Museum staff began specifically collecting artifacts, ob­jects, and documents for the facility years ago.

The mission of the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum is to tell the story of the railroader, and the facility will enable curators, educators, and interpreters to recount that story in a comprehensive and cogent manner. Twenty-five thousand square feet of gallery space will feature six hundred photographs, fourteen audio-visual stations, and nearly a thousand objects and artifacts. A theater seating sixty-five, library, archives, lecture room, and large museum store also will be included. The current museum building is being re­designed for the installation of new exhibits.

Founded in 1980, the Blair County attraction honors railroaders and com­memorates their contributions to what was once one of the Keystone State’s most powerful and influential industries. The story of the expansion of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the commu­nity of Altoona is one and the same. The story is one of people. The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum chronicles the lives of the men and women who made Altoona one of the greatest railroad centers in the United States. While the community grew out of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the true great­ness of the company came from the people of Central Pennsylvania. This saga began in the mid-nineteenth cen­tury when it became apparent that rail transportation would be the key to coast­-to-coast commerce. In a period of less than ten years, the Pennsylvania Railroad was chartered, the City of Altoona deeded, and construction of the world’s largest railroad shops begun. These vast locomotive and car shops eventually employed sixteen thousand workers at their peak.

The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum also administers the interpre­tive visitors center at Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark. The Pennsylvania Railroad met the challenge of carrying its main line over the steep Allegheny Mountains by constructing the Horseshoe Curve, which opened for rail traffic in 1854. Designed by the Pennsylvania Railroad’s chief engineer (and later president) J. Edgar Thomson, Horseshoe Curve connects one side of the valley to the other. This huge loop in the westward expansion of the railroad was carved out of the mountainside en­tirely by hand – by laborers using picks and shovels. More than fifty trains tra­verse Horseshoe Curve – still considered an engineering marvel – each day.

Visiting hours at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum and the Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark change seasonally. There is an admission charge for both attractions.

For more details, write: Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, 1300 Ninth Ave., Altoona, PA 16602; or telephone (814) 946-0834.

 

Like Grandfather, Like Grandson

Born in 1946, contemporary painter and scion of one of America’s best­-known artistic dynasties Jamie Wyeth never met his grandfather Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945), but he paints with a similar sense of fantasy.

N.C. Wyeth, one of the country’s great and beloved illustrators, as well as patriarch of the famous Brandywine River Valley family of artists, has capti­vated generations of Americans with powerful illustrations for classic tales of romance, mystery, and adventure. His illustrations for popular periodicals of the day, The Saturday Evening Post, McClure’s Magazine, The Delineator, Scribner’s Magazine, and Leslie’s Popular Monthly made his stylized works known to countless households. With color reproductions of his illustrations for children’s classics, his works through the years have reached an enormous public. Renowned for his distinctive illustrations for children’s books, he created fresh works for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Black Arrow; The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper; Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe; Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving; The Boy’s King Arthur, edited by Sidney Lanier; The Children’s Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha and The Courtship of Miles Standish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; and Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island and Michael Strogoff, A Courier of the Czar.

Wyeth worked during what art histo­rians have called the “golden age of illustration,” from the mid-1870s through the first decades of the twentieth century. Many artists embarked on careers as illustrators during this period but few­ – with the exception of Winslow Homer, Frederic Remington, Howard Pyle, and Wyeth – were considered truly great. During his forty-three years of illustra­tion, from 1903 until his death in 1945, he created nearly four thousand pieces constituting a large and important body of work.

Charles Scribner’s Sons gave Wyeth his most important commission for the illustration of the 1911 edition of Stevenson’s Treasure Island, for which the twenty-nine-year-old artist produced seventeen paintings. These painterly works are considered to be his finest group for a single publication. The collaboration between painter and publisher was enormously successful, leading to a number of prestigious – and lucrative – commissions for Wyeth.

Wyeth’s grandson James Brown Wyeth is the son of Andrew, famous for his depictions of the region in and around Chadds Ford. Jamie Wyeth attracted national attention with his posthumous portrait of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. His illustrations for children’s books such as The Stray and Cabbages and Kings complement his portrait paintings and images of every­day scenes and ordinary objects. Jamie Wyeth is known for Draft Age, Pumpkinhead – Self-Portrait, Runners, Islander, 10W30, and Portrait of Pig.

An exhibition examining the artistic similarities between N.C. Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth will open at the Brandywine River Museum on Saturday, January 24, 1998. The exhibition – originally conceived by Jamie Wyeth­ – includes paintings and drawings by grandfather and grandson demonstrat­ing a common interest in subject, technique, and spirit. Entitled “N.C. Wyeth and His Grandson: A Legacy,” the exhibition will showcase Captain Nemo, a compelling portrait that illus­trated Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island, which is new to public exhibition, as well as forty of N.C. Wyeth’s pen and ink drawings.

“N.C. Wyeth and His Grandson: A Legacy” will continue through Sunday, March 29, 1998.

The Brandywine River Museum is open daily, from 9:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Admission is charged.

To obtain more information, write: Brandywine River Museum, P.O. Box 141, Chadds Ford, PA 19317; or tele­phone (610) 388-2700.