Staying present with Brandywine River Museum of Art's historical Antiques Lectures

2 minute read
Antique rugs from the 2019 Antiques Show. (Photos by Carlos Alejandro.)
Antique rugs from the 2019 Antiques Show. (Photos by Carlos Alejandro.)

This winter, the Brandywine River Museum of Art used a pandemic-related hiatus to shutter the facility for some long-planned upgrades, and they’ll reopen in June. This means that along with regular offerings, the Museum had to reconsider what to do about its annual spring Antiques Show. Rather than scratch this 50-year-old tradition, the Museum decided to present a series of ticketed online talks and roundtable discussions that take a closer look at furniture and collectibles. The series, open for online viewing on May 24 and available to watch for the next two weeks, allows you to access its four offerings in any order.

New talks about old things

The series’ keynote talk is a trip through time and Chester County with Wendy Cooper, Winterthur’s Curator Emerita of furniture. Cooper, who lectures nationally and sits on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, among other boards, has a storied museum career in decorative arts. She journeys through southeastern Pennsylvania, exploring “the enormous diversity and industry of Chester County artisans” and emphasizing ownership of specific historic pieces and locales where the furniture was made. Cooper says that “although this year we won’t be able to fondle the remarkable early furniture at the Brandywine Antiques Show, I hope my jaunt through the wilds of 18th century Chester County will be an enlightening and informative adventure.”

Among the three other programs is a lecture with an international sweep that’s focused on Oriental rugs from the 17th century through today. Frank Shaia, owner of Shaia Oriental Rugs of Williamsburg (Virginia), has been a longtime exhibitor at the Museum’s annual show and teaches at William & Mary. He’ll speak about three great rug renaissance periods.

There’s also “Cultivating Awareness: Americana Insights,” a conversation moderated by journalist Laura Beach that features art and design experts Jane Katcher (collector), Robert Shaw (curator and editor of the new online journal Americana Insights), and Nancy Druckman (folk art expert seen on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow.) The series rounds out with a look at “Resilience in the Antiques Business.” Five notable antique dealers from around the country will give an insider’s look at their trade in a casual discussion moderated by auctioneer and appraiser Amelia Jeffers.

Donna Gormel, Director of Volunteers and Events, takes the annual lead on the Museum’s much anticipated and wide-ranging Antiques Show. “We knew we would not be able to host an in-person event of our usual scope this year,” Gormel said, “but we wanted to honor the tradition. Virtual lectures and conversations on antiques felt right, and we’re thrilled to keep the Brandywine Show’s spirit alive in 2021.”

The Museum is already planning for their 2022 return to an in-person, “fondle-the-furniture” event.

What, When, Where, and Accessibility

Antiques Lectures and Roundtable Discussions, presented by Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, PA, is a ticketed virtual event streaming from May 24 through June 7, 2021.

Image Description: Several colorful antique rugs rolled up, standing up.

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