Published: October 28, 2015
READING, PENN. — The Berks History Center will open two new galleries to the public Saturday, November 14, dedicated to Pennsylvania German folk art, Berks County clocks and furniture. Made possible through a generous bequest of 33 artifacts from the estate of noted Lancaster County collector John J. Snyder Jr, the installation of the new galleries was directed by Lisa Minardi, an authority on Pennsylvania German decorative arts and assistant curator at Winterthur Museum.
Highlights of the new Pennsylvania German gallery include two Berks County painted chests, one with a horse and rider design dated 1787 and the other an Embroidery Artist chest made for Dietrich Gackley of Lower Heidelberg Township in 1798. Two paintings by noted Berks County Almshouse artist Charles Hofmann are included, along with a saffron box by Joseph Lehn, a striking painted “Bucher” box made for Nicholas Keim of Berks County, a Peter Derr fat lamp and a painted corner cupboard filled with spatterware.
There is also a choice lineup of tall clocks with elaborately inlaid or carved cases.
The second gallery features Berks County clocks and furniture, primarily from the Snyder collection. Alongside a flamboyant, full-length portrait of noted Reading clockmaker Daniel Rose is one of his earliest known clock movements and two clocks made by his brother-in-law, Daniel Oyster. Another section explores the work of Reading cabinetmaker Daniel Rhein, who produced sophisticated inlaid Federal furniture that is often mistakenly attributed to Philadelphia. Three clocks, a slant-front desk and a tall chest of drawers from Rhein’s workshop are included in the display. An 8-by-11-foot model of colonial Reading — made as a WPA project — is also shown.
Also opening to the public the same day is the museum’s newly renovated Trades to Industries Room, with displays on agriculture, food, textile and iron production in Berks County.
During the opening on November 14, from 10 am to 3 pm, Minardi will lead guided gallery walks at intervals throughout the day. A lecture and book signing by Jack Ross on the Socialist Party in America will take place at 10 am; members $5, nonmembers $8.
Events scheduled for next month include a lecture on Pennsylvania German folk art by Lisa Minardi, followed by a book signing, on Saturday, December 12, at 10 am; members $5, nonmembers $8; followed at 2 pm by an onsite benefit auction, conducted by Pook & Pook Auctioneers. Participants can bid on objects approved for deaccessioning by the center’s board of trustees. All proceeds to benefit the museum’s acquisition and conservation fund. Auction preview starts at 11:30 am.
The center is at 940 Centre Avenue. For further information, www.berkshistory.org or 610-375-4375.
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