Take in the lush beauty of Winterthur Garden and the Brandywine Valley at the peak of spring.
We’ll travel first to the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford. The museum features an outstanding collection of American art housed in a nineteenth-century mill overlooking the banks of the Brandywine River. Renowned for its holdings of the Wyeth family of artists, the museum includes galleries dedicated to the work of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. During the time of our visit, there will also be a major exhibition of the work of Horace Pippin (1888-1946), an artist esteemed for his bold, colorful and candid paintings reflecting life in the African American community and commenting on race, religion, war and history.
From the Brandywine River Museum, we’ll travel a short distance across the state line into Delaware’s “Chateau Country”, to spend the afternoon at the Winterthur Museum and Garden.
In 1951, collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont opened his childhood home, Winterthur, to the public. Today, Winterthur is the premier museum of American decorative arts, with an unparalleled collection of nearly 90,000 objects made or used in America between 1640 and 1860. The collection is displayed in the magnificent 175-room house, much as it was when the du Pont family lived here, as well as in permanent and changing exhibition galleries.
The Winterthur Garden, designed by Mr. du Pont, is a 60-acre naturalistic garden–one of the last remaining “wild” gardens of the early 20th century. The flora, consisting mainly of naturalized exotics, is arranged to appear as if it grew spontaneously, planted in large drifts and grouped with other plants that harmonize in color and form. In mid-May, the garden is filled with color as dogwoods, viburnums, rhododendrons, and azaleas are in full bloom across the estate.
Upon arrival, we will have lunch on our own in the Winterthur cafeteria, then take a 25-minute garden tram ride to the museum, during which the driver will introduce you to the history of Winterthur and features of the garden. Arriving at the museum, in small groups of five (some at 2:00 and some at 3:30) we will have a 1-hour custom tour of the Pennsylvania German rooms in the museum. This is a tour that is not available on everyday visits to the museum. During the time that you are not touring the rooms, you will be free to explore the museum galleries or garden.
There will also be a special Pennsylvania German exhibit on display in the galleries during our visit: “A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans & the Art of Everyday Life”. This exhibit will shed new light on Pennsylvania German folk art and present more than 125 objects—many never before exhibited or published. Highlights include rare and important examples of fraktur, ranging from elaborate birth and baptismal certificates (made primarily by members of the German Lutheran and Reformed faiths) to an extraordinary religious text made by Mennonite schoolmaster Andreas Kolb (shown at right). A painted chest decorated in 1783 by fraktur artist Henrich Otto with floral motifs and a pair of camels will also be displayed. Textiles will be prominently featured, including dazzling examples of needlework, quilted objects, and clothing such as an embroidered wedding handkerchief and apron from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The tools and techniques used by fraktur artists will be explored in addition to issues of authenticity, forgery, and revivals.
Most objects in the exhibition are drawn from Winterthur’s permanent collection, which now includes the fraktur and textile collection of the late Rev. Frederick S. Weiser, a legendary scholar and collector of Pennsylvania German folk art. In addition, more than a dozen private collectors and institutions loaned important works of art.
On the way back to Souderton, we’ll stop for a short while at a unique home and garden store, Terrain, in Glen Mills. Whimsical, fresh and airy, full of great ideas and beautiful plants and products for the garden home, you might fall in love with this place!
The tour fee of $90 (MHEP members $85) includes admission to both museums and gratuity for the bus driver. Lunch is on your own at Winterthur. Tour participants will board the Hagey Coach at the Hagey Transportation Center located at 210 Schoolhouse Road, Souderton (located 1 ½ miles east of Route 113). The bus will depart on Thursday morning, May 14, at 9:00 a.m. with boarding at 8:45 a.m. The tour will return to the same location around 6:30 p.m. Your automobiles may remain parked at Hagey’s fenced parking lot. Deadline for registration is Thursday, April 23. Forrest Moyer will serve as the tour leader.