A Visitor’s Guide to The Brandywine River Museum

If you are an art lover and plan to be in the Philadelphia area during the holiday season, you should make it a point to visit The Brandywine River Museum in nearby Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

The Brandywine River Museum is best known for its vast collection of works by the famous Wyeth family. Original paintings by NC Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth have a permanent home at this unique museum. At various times throughout the year, the Wyeth family home and NC Wyeth’s personal art studio are also open for tours (transportation is provided by a shuttle bus from the museum and an additional fee is required).

During the holiday season, the museum is also very well known for its special holiday display, dubbed “A Brandywine Christmas”. Handmade “critter” ornaments adorn the trees in the lobby and are on display in glass cases throughout the museum (look for the handmade Noah’s Ark display– it is incredible).

Another big attraction is Ann Wyeth McCoy’s antique doll collection and the Victorian dollhouses, which are only on display during the holiday season. Upstairs, an O-gauge model train display features over 2000 feet of track and a bunch of moving trains that cruise through a miniature village. Your whole family will be delighted by this awesome train display, which also features a real live conductor who can answer questions about the display.

What not to miss:

The museum has a vast array of wonderful displays year round. Besides the awesome view of the nearby river, this unique museum (it’s actually an old gristmill) features a large collection of works by many Brandywine Valley artists– most notably the Wyeths– but also Horace Pippin, George Weymouth, and NC Wyeth’s mentor, Howard Pyle. During the holiday season, many holiday-themed paintings and illustrations are also on display (in 2005, Clement C. Moore’s “The Night before Christmas” is being featured).

Some of NC Wyeth’s most famous paintings can be viewed here. Look for his “Treasure Island” illustrations and “Old Kris”, his famous Christmas portrait. The Andrew Wyeth collection is not to be missed. Many of Wyeth’s famous “Helga” paintings are part of the collection, as well as his most recent works. Jamie Wyeth’s “Portrait of Pig” is often on display, as is his famous painting of Andy Warhol. The Wyeth collection rotates throughout the year, so check the museum’s website for up to date information on what is on display.

On your way out, be sure to check out the museum gift shop. You can find wonderful gifts and toys for children, as well as books, calendars, postcards and more. There is also a museum restaurant, which is open most days from 10 AM until 3 ;00 PM– it features light fare like soups, sandwiches and salads and local wines.

If you’re going:

The Brandywine River Museum is located on Route 1 in Chadds Ford, PA. The museum is open every day from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM (it’s closed on Christmas day). Parking is free at the museum parking lot. Plan to get there early if you visit during “A Brandywine Christmas”, though– the lines can get very long. You can contact The Brandywine River Museum at 610-388- 2700 for more information and current admission pricing.

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