Brandywine River Museum
1 Hoffman Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA, USA
www.brandywinemuseum.org - (610) 388-2700
Brandywine River Museum Chadds Ford Reviews
Wyeth Not? Dec 19, 2013
A delightful museum off of Route 1, just outside Philadelphia, this venue technically focuses on the Brandywine River School of artists, but is largely a tribute to the acclaimed Wyeth family (grandfather N.C., son Andrew and grandson Janie). The Brandywine River School was a style of illustration begun by Howard Pyle, who came to fame by drawing pictures for children’s books and originated what we conceive of today as “pirate dress” (Pyle was tasked to make pirate illustrations and had no models to work from, so he invented the colorful ‘gypsy-like’ wardrobes for his crews, which everyone else seized upon and which modern historians point out would have been very impractical). Pyle was attracted to the natural beauty around Chadds Ford and began teaching there, his students including N.C. Wyeth.
The museum is a converted three-story gristmill, sitting on the lovely banks of Brandywine Creek. My most recent visit was in December, so we didn’t get to enjoy the magnificent wildflower gardens surrounding the building. If you visit outside of winter, these gardens are practically worth the price of admission themselves. And speaking of admission, entrance fee is $12, $6 for students and children 6 to 12 (under six it is free admission).
Exhibits change frequently, the lion’s share of seasonal collections featuring illustrations, landscapes and still life works by Brandywine School artists. Wyeth pieces clearly dominate, and though Andrew is my favorite, there is no denying the brilliance of his relatives (N.C.’s illustrations, in particular, demonstrate the irreverent sense of humor so evident in Andrew’s work).
We were present for the “Brandywine Christmas” showing, which complemented a selection of wintry paintings with a special holiday edition of their model railroad exhibit (one of the world's largest, the O-gauge display boasts over 1,000 pieces and 2,000 feet of track!) and glimpses into a Wyeth Christmas, including dollhouses Andrew built for his children and his extensive collection of toy soldiers. A nice touch for the season.
Two nearby sites ae also considered a part of the Brandywine River Museum: the N.C. Wyeth House and the Kuerner Farm. There is an additional charge of $8 for each tour and children under six years are not allowed. As you would guess, the first is the house N.C. bought in Chadds Ford and used as a studio to paint many of his masterpieces. The Kuerner Farm, about a mile from the N.C. Wyeth house, was close enough for a young Andrew to frequently roam to and he got close to the owners, a German couple - the husband fought for the German Army in WWI. The house and surrounding grounds were the setting for about 1,000 of Andrew’s paintings (I told you he was productive)!
A wonderful place to visit and it just gets better each time you return.
Part of the Home for the Holidays travel blog
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