This article is brought to you by our friends at Rochester Manor+Villa.
What’s the first thing you think of when someone says The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York? New Brighton, PA, right? No? It may surprise many Beaver County residents to learn that we have a local tie to the Met through the Merrick Art Gallery in New Brighton.
For those unfamiliar, The Merrick Art Gallery is a free and amazing gallery nestled in the old rail station in New Brighton. Founder Edward Dempster Merrick had a deep love of art, was an artist himself, and amassed a great collection of art. Much of the collection is dedicated to the Hudson River School Style (learn more here: https://www.britannica.com/art/Hudson-River-school ). This era in American art is characterized by the ornate Victorian style frames of the day.
When the Metropolitan Museum of Art was looking for authentic era frames in 2005, Gretchen Lange, direct descendant of Edward, made the connection with Merrick Art Gallery. Around a dozen frames from the Merrick found a new home in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Hudson River School paintings. Two frames are also on permanent display in the restoration area at the Met.
The frames are extraordinary in and of themselves. Each frame is actually made up of multiple plaster-cast pieces from wood carved moulds, combined to make the highly ornate final product making each frame unique. Art dealers and auctions houses would put frames together for the artworks they received. Frames were usually painted gold, silver or black, or covered with gold leaf. The Merrick currently has 236 paintings in the collection and only two frames are identical.
In addition to the ornate frames and amazing artworks, the Merrick Art Gallery has summer classes for children and adults, as well as shows throughout the year. In September, 2017 they will break ground on a new parking lot that will be the first of its kind in Beaver County. It’s ‘green’—a rain garden will be fed from a filtration system designed to catch run-off. It will hold parking for 25 cars and 2 buses. For more information on hours, classes or the new parking lot, visit their website or Facebook page (www.merrickartgallery.org).
Remember! When you visit, be sure to look for the gold leaf frames. You can tell which is a gold leaf by putting your finger up to the frame. A gold leaf frame will show a reflection of your finger! I tried it. It works.