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History Lives at the Wharton Esherick Museum

By Jake Levin

The Wharton Esherick Museum is unlike any place you have ever been, according to Katie Wynne.

Wynne works in visitor experience and as a program specialist at the museum, located in Malvern, Pa. The museum is the handcrafted home of Wharton Esherick, who is considered the Dean of American Craftsmen. Esherick lived from 1887 to 1970 and worked primarily in wood, shaping a future generation of craftsmen as one of the most influential furniture designers of the early 20th Century.

His works are found far beyond the walls of the museum named after him, but his residence, which sits atop a quaint hill, is a National Historical Landmark for Architecture and possesses more than 300 of his finest works. Esherick's family agreed to preserve his home and collection as a museum so that others could continue to gain enjoyment and inspiration from his work.

"Honored by the American Institute of Architects with its Gold Medal for Craftsmanship and considered by so many to be a genius of American furniture design, his work continues to inspire countless artists and craftspeople who admire the fluidity and ingenuity of his designs," Wynne said.

The Wharton Esherick Museum holds events in addition to their general tour such as wine and cheese tours in the summer, and Octoberfest tours come fall. Wynne said that the events are really about the gift of time, which provides visitors a chance to relax and reflect on the work of Esherick's life. A typical event involves a tour of the museum followed by drinks and snacks and a conversation about Esherick's "Castle on the Hill," as it is sometimes called. To visit the Museum you must be on a guided tour, for which reservations are required. Tours limited to 12 people, so Wynne recommends making reservations far in advance.

Anyone with an interest in woodworking, art, architecture or simply seeing how the mind of a creative genius like Esherick's worked would find delight in the museum, according to Wynne.

"The Museum is not only a beacon for artists and woodworkers; it's a respite from the hectic world, full of joy, good humor and creative energy," Wynne said. "We at the Wharton Esherick Museum believe it is invaluable that Esherick's work be not simply exhibited but experienced in the tactile and immersive setting of Esherick's own home."

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