HARRISBURG (June 18, 2019) – A museum celebrating the work and legacy of one of America’s most influential sculptors and craftsman will receive $25,000 in state grant funding, state Senator Andy Dinniman announced today.
The Wharton Esherick Museum, located atop Valley Forge Mount in Malvern, was recently awarded the funding through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Keystone Preservation Grant Program. The grant will support a masterplan that calls for connecting its two properties – Esherick’s studio and Sunkekrest, the 19th-century farmhouse where the Eshericks first lived. Eventually, plans also call for integrating Esherick’s 1956 workshop.
“The Wharton Esherick Museum is a distinctive place that tells the story of one Pennsylvania’s and America’s most unique artists and creators,” Dinniman said. “With this grant support, the museum can continue to preserve Esherick’s legacy and bring his work to the attention of a new generation of young artists and artisans.”
Born in Philadelphia in 1887, Esherick studied wood and metal working, as well as drawing, print-making and painting, before settling into an old farmhouse outside the city to pursue his art and organic farming (in the event his paintings did not sell). He gained an interest in wood-working in 1920 by carving simple representational designs on frames for his paintings. This led to carving woodcuts, sculpting and making furniture.
Over the next 50 years, he completed an array of works, primarily in wood, and many commissions for sculpture and furniture pieces including desks, tables, sofas, chairs, bookshelves, and ceiling panels, among other items. Recognized as “The Dean of American Craftsman” in his lifetime, Esherick laid the foundation for the current Studio Furniture Movement. Esherick died in 1970, but his legacy as a pioneer for successive generations of artists working in non-traditional design lives on.
A National Historic Landmark for Architecture, the Wharton Esherick Museum exhibits more than 300 of Esherick’s works and has been preserved much as it was when the artist lived and worked there.
The Keystone Preservation Grant Program is supported by the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund. Grants are reimbursable and require a 50/50 cash match. Eligible projects include registered nonprofit organizations and local governments planning or developing publicly accessible historic resources listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information on Esherick or to plan a visit to the Wharton Esherick Museum, visit www.whartonesherickmuseum.org.