Brandywine Museum

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Positioned at the confluence of art and nature, The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art has reopened its doors, offering both virtual presentations and in-person programs.

Combining the Conservancy and Museum of Art preserves and promotes the natural and cultural connections between the area’s beautiful landscape, historic sites, and important artists. The Brandywine Conservancy protects and conserves the land, water, natural, and cultural resources of the Brandywine-Christina watershed, while the Brandywine River Museum of Art presents and collects historic and contemporary works of American art.

Renowned for its holdings of the Wyeth family of artists, the museum’s galleries feature works of N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth, along with the museum’s Heritage Collection, a cross-section of American art. The museum and conservancy share a 15-acre campus with buildings, native plant gardens, and two walking trails. The museum occupies an 1864 grist mill building with a dramatic steel and glass addition overlooking the Brandywine River on Route 1 in Chadds Ford, Pa. The museum’s three-story glass lobby adds those expansive views of the Brandywine River and surrounding woods and meadows to the collection of 19th- and 20th-century landscape and still-life paintings, portraits, and illustration art.

For its reopening, the museum will present “Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War,” an exploration of U.S. aviation and military history by renowned American Modernist Ralston Crawford. On view through September 19, 2021, the collection of nearly 80 works by the artist includes drawings, photographs, paintings, and lithographs from the 1940s that narrate Crawford’s involvement with aerospace and World War II. Crawford is known for his abstract representations of urban life and industry. His early work focused on realistic portrayals of factories, bridges, and shipyards. Later work took him to Spain, New Orleans, and even the Bikini Atoll in 1946 to record a nuclear weapons test.

Facility Renovations Mark Reopening

During its temporary closure through the COVID pandemic, the Brandywine Museum undertook several facility renovations. Opening into the museum’s central atrium, the reimagined gallery uses new state-of-the-art lighting to improve circulation within the building, enhancing the visitor experience. Additionally, the museum’s other galleries have been refreshed with paint and rehung with a new selection of recent acquisitions and loans, as well as rarely seen works from the permanent collection. Following its reopening, the museum unveiled a towering new sculpture at its front entrance by local artist Rikki Morley Saunders. “The Tipping Point” is cast in bronze and features two majestic and fearsome peacocks intertwined in mid-air battle.

Saunders has exhibited at The Philadelphia Show, presented by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and is also included in many prestigious private collections across the United States and Europe. In addition to “The Tipping Point,” the museum’s campus holds four other bronze sculptures: “Boy with Hawk” by Charles Parks; “Miss Gratz” by J. Clayton Bright; “Helen” by André Harvey; and “R.B.” by Dan Ostermiller.

Visual proximity to the Brandywine River can enlarge a museum visit into something more than simply a visual experience. Exploring the campus can quickly become visceral with the sound of the river and sweet scent of the native plant gardens and nursery. A riverside trail begins near the museum and follows along the Brandywine to the meadow across from the historic John Chads House, approximately a one-mile roundtrip. For a longer hike, a trailhead leads to the Harvey Run Trail, established through a partnership with the Chadds Ford Township. The trailhead provides access to a 5-mile, natural surface trail network stretching through 300 acres of preserved open space.

Even taste can become part of the Brandywine experience at the museum’s Millstone Café, with a variety of seasonally inspired and freshly prepared made-to-order and “grab and go” menu options. In addition to its reopening exhibition, the museum has a full slate of virtual and socially distant, in-person events scheduled throughout the summer. Capacity limits and other safety measures, including timed ticketing, will remain in place.

Find the complete schedule of events at www.brandywine.org/events.

Reed Hellman is a professional writer living in Alberton, Maryland. E-mail your questions and comments to RHWay2Go@gmail.com.

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