Home > Uncategorized > Week 7: I Visit the Wharton Eshrick Museum (New, easy to read format)

Week 7: I Visit the Wharton Eshrick Museum (New, easy to read format)

Because I have so few readers and because I highly value them, I’ve decided to make this post easy on everyone. By everyone I mean the writer and the handful of people who might lay their eyes on this. I therefore will give a brief summary, followed by 10 things I think you, few though you are, should know about this experience. So, here goes.

Brief Summary created so as not to tax the few readers I have, or the writer for that matter:

The Wharton Eshrick Museum is located near Valley Forge, and it is the former studio and (later in his life) living quarters of a sculptor who worked primarily in wood and created very unique furniture, staircases, cutting boards, etc. in his home.

Why I went:  My parents were visiting. My dad has always made furniture as a hobby–he even made my kitchen table. My mom is an artist. So I knew they would both enjoy this museum. What’s more, I’d never been there and I needed a blog for this week. Thus, the stars aligned, and I went.

Ten Things I think You Just Might Want to Know About the Wharton Eshrick Museum

  1. It’s off the beaten path. I’m not exaggerating here. You turn off a main road onto a dirt road, with only a very small sign pointing the way. Then, you almost immediately come upon the museum which at first glance looks pretty unexceptional and is also identified by a very small sign My first thought: “Uh oh. This looks a little hokey.”
  2. It wasn’t hokey. In order to go, you need to make reservations. Your admission ($12 per adult) includes a guided tour by an extremely knowledgable (at least in our case) docent. We stood outside for about 15 minutes while she gave us background information and explained why the studio looked like this photo to the left. See that sagging roof? It’s not sagging. Wharton Eshrick believed, like Frank Lloyd Wright, that a building should fit in with it’s surroundings. There are no right angles in nature, the docent told us (I’m betting there actually are a few. ) So, the roof is deliberately curved. Also, the windows overlook a beautiful wooded steep slope, so he always looked out on nature.

3.  It’s small. Very small. But the hour-plus tour still wasn’t enough time to really cover everything. Eshrick spent time on his grandfather’s boat as a child. He used every piece of available space so creatively, just as is often done on a boat. The kitchen was my mom’s favorite part–interesting cutting boards were hanging from the cieling, and he built a clever little cabinet with sliding parts to store things in. Also, a a small fireplace was built into the wall, waist high, so he could grill indoors without bending down!

The two-poster bed

4. I loved the bedroom. To the right you can see the bed built up against three small windows so he could look out as he lay in bed. Underneath are the drawers that held his clothing, above are bookshelves.  When we think of a dream house, we tend to imagine something big and opulent. But this was so appealing because it was small and crafted with such intense attention to detail.

5.  The staircases are a bit scary. I mean, they’re beautiful–works of art, really. But my parents are older and navigating a tight spiral staircase seemed like it might be inadvisable. Llike everything else, though, it was well designed, so there were handrails on both sides. At one point, the the staircase splits off into a second staircase, and there is a mammoth tusk there that serves as the handrail!  My parents made it up and down, no problem.

A handcarved doorlatch

6. “He had his hands in everything, even the light switches.” This quote from our docent proved true.  The lights were worked by pulls upon which he hung handcarved figures. The coat hooks were carved images of the men who worked in his studio, and one of him with a chisel, another of the bird that sang while they worked. In the picture to the right you can see that he not only carved the door latch, but also carved a design into the wooden door.

7.  He had a very old printing press that came from the Pottstown Mercury. He used it to print etchings and posters he made for the Hedgerow Theater.

8. His daughter still lives on the property. She and her husband live in an interesting building which was a workshop. It’s not open to the public.

A desk shaped like an upside-down sawhorse

9. One of my favorite pieces was a desk. Several desks actually. One had an abstract carved design with the trees he could see out his window. Very cool. Another opened up and held his design drawings. Two drawers that slid out on top were actually lights that turned on automatically when they were pulled out.  The desktop to the left was designed so that the grain on one side went opposite to the grain on the other, creating an interesting effect.

10.  You should go. I couldn’t possibly tell you everything, or even show you one thing in these photos (pulled from their website. You don’t think I remembered my camera, do you?) that is half as amazing as seeing it in person. 

 
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